Tuesday, January 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Centre against disbanding SOG
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
There is a difference of opinion between the newly elected Jammu and Kashmir Government and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) over the disbanding of the Special Operations Group (SOG) which forms the core of the operations undertaken by the security forces in the troubled state.

Apparently peeved at the unilateral decisions being taken by the Mufti government, specially concerning the release of terrorists and the disbanding of the SOG, the MHA has conveyed to the J&K Government that it was not in favour of the disbanding of the group.

Under pressure from the security forces, specially the Army, that the SOG should not be disbanded, the MHA is of the opinion that such a step would have a direct effect on various operations.

The SOG, consisting mainly of personnel from the J&K police and surrendered militants, plays a vital role in not only providing intelligence inputs to security forces regarding the movements and plans of the terrorists but also helps in identifying the terrorists. Besides the men from the SOG also take active part, along with the security forces, in various operations against the terrorists.

According to reports, the MHA has pointed out that since it was the Centre’s decision to constitute such a group, the state government on its own could not take a decision to disband it. Further it has also conveyed to the state that it would have to take the Centre into confidence before taking any such decision in the future.

Struck hard by the Centre’s decision, the state government has now put forward another suggestion to the MHA where it is seeking a change in name of the SOG. The state government, in an apparent face-saving bid, has written to the MHA that if the SOG cannot be disbanded then at least a change in name would help in carrying on with its “healing touch”.

Reports suggest that although the MHA is not in favour of such a move, there is pressure from the state government to agree with its demand.

Earlier, there were reports that the security forces specially the Army, was upset with the government to agree with its demand. Earlier, there were reports that the security forces specially the Army, was upset with the government’s decision to disband the SOG.

Although officially it maintained that the disbanding of the group was unlikely to affect the counter-terrorism operations, senior officers privately pointed out that the decision had a demoralising effect on the security forces.

The decision also had an effect on the operations as the SOG men were no longer coming forward to provide information and be part of the operations. With a question mark over its existence, the men were not showing any interest.

The SOG men were also sceptical as the J&K Government had also said those part of the group would also be held accountable for their various “deeds”. This the security forces felt had also hampered counter-terrorism operations.

The security forces were also of the opinion that such a decision of the state government were also leading to the terrorist organisations getting bolder.

On the other hand the terrorist organisations had apparently become emboldened and were going all out to create trouble.

The state government had earlier said it was committed to assimilating and relocating the personnel of the SOG in the regular police force so that they were subjected to discipline and made accountable for their deeds.

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