Monday, July 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India





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Centre to impose Governorís rule in J&K
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

Factfile

 * Governorís rule in Jammu and Kashmir by August.
 * Governor G.C. Saxena not to be changed.
 * Vajpayee government to discourage visiting foreign dignitaries from giving their unsolicited advice on Jammu and Kashmir.
 * PM to visit the state before the elections and announce a comprehensive political and economic package.

New Delhi, July 21
The Atal Behari Vajpayee government is understood to have decided in principle to impose Governorís rule in Jammu and Kashmir with a view to implementing its promise of holding free-and-fair Assembly elections, which are due this October.

The Governorís rule is likely to be announced by next month, authoritative sources told The Tribune here today.

Significantly, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), at its last meeting held here on July 14 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, had also decided to adopt a ďmulti-pronged approachĒ in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections, considering the fact that the international community is going to watch the polls very keenly.

However, there is a catch. Chief Minister Farooq Abdullahís National Conference, which was earlier game to the idea of Governorís rule in the state, has now turned against the proposal.

Sources said Dr Abdullah now saw merit in the state opposition partiesí charge that he was hand in glove with the Centre to lend credibility to the elections to be held under Governorís rule.

With the dramatic shift in NCís stand on the issue of Governorís rule, a peculiar situation has arisen. It remains to be seen whether the Centre imposes Governorís rule with or without the consent of the state government.

Under the directions of the Centre, Mr Ajay Raj Sharma, the new chief of the Border Security Force (BSF), is going to visit Jammu and Kashmir ďvery soonĒ to make an on-the-spot assessment of the security situation in the state. The BSF chief would also personally oversee the preparations of his force, which is deployed in large numbers all over the state, for foiling the anticipated activities of terrorists to sabotage the forthcoming elections.

Besides, the Vajpayee government is also understood to have taken some more decisions vis-a-vis J & K, as follows:

* Governor G C Saxena would not be changed as it is not considered wise to replace the Governor at such a crucial juncture.

* The Vajpayee government would discourage visiting foreign dignitaries from giving their unsolicited advice on Jammu and Kashmir, so much so that it would not hesitate to cold-shoulder such dignitaries. The just-concluded visit of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is a case in point. Neither Prime Minister Vajpayee nor his deputy, Mr L.K. Advani, met Mr Straw despite a request for such a meeting from the British side. The US Secretary of State, Mr Colin Powell, is due to come here on July 27 or 28. His deputy, Mr Richard Armitage, is likely to come here in the first half of August.

* The Prime Minister would visit Jammu and Kashmir just before the elections and announce a comprehensive political, economic and social package for the state.
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