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‘De-militarisation will help secessionists’
Kumar Rakesh
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 5
The apolitical nature of his chair means that the Governor, Lt Gen S.K. Sinha (retd), balances his politically sensitive views by refraining from any name-calling. But, nonetheless, he makes things as clear as propriety will allow him.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, he said those who spoke in favour of “de-militarisation” in the valley and “maligned” the Army, wanted to “break connections with India”.

When asked if he meant the PDP, a coalition partner in the Congress-led state government and champion of the de-militarisation demand, the Governor said: “Being the head of the state, I won’t pinpoint.” But, he stressed, those wanting the Army to be withdrawn from counter-insurgency operations were “willingly or unwillingly” working for secessionists’ cause.

Sinha has had a long and close association with the valley where he first landed as a young Army officer in 1947 to fight tribal raiders backed by the Pakistani army. He said he was writing a vivid account of his tenure here in his new book titled “Recalled to Colours: Diary of a Pro-active Governor”, where he will not be pulling any punches.

“I will come out with the book once I demit this office,” he said. The book will have details of his handling and experiences of insurgency in Assam, where he was the Governor prior to his appointment in Jammu and Kashmir in June, 2003, and here, General Sinha, who has seven books to his credit, said.

He rued that militants might have not been successful with guns, but had been so with another weapon: propaganda. The media, he added, had also been largely ill-disposed towards the Army, ignoring all its good work like rehabilitation of the earthquake-hit, and rapping it “day in and day out”.

When asked to comment over the alleged cold-blooded killing of an innocent Kashmiri teacher by an Army jawan in Kupwara, he said individual transgressions like those were bound to happen at times, but the Army had been quick to take action against the accused.

Those busy blasting soldiers, the Governor said, should see how brutally the Pakistani army was dealing with extremists using heavy artillery and aircraft something “the Indian Army has never done”.

He said a strong Army presence in the valley was “absolutely essential” because of the continuing militancy and instability in Pakistan, which could “spill over” across the border.

Even the demand of partial withdrawal of troops because of reduced violence is not appropriate as counter-insurgency is no “arithmetic” in which you decrease the number of soldiers just because the number of militant attacks has come down.

General Sinha, however, said people had become a lot wiser now. He could see things getting back to normalcy in the coming years. From the slogans of complete secession, extremists have moderated their demands and people want peace, he said.

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