November 1999 News


High-level meet on Wednesday to review situation in Kashmir

13 November 1999
The Hindustan Times
By Jay Raina

New Delhi: Rattled By the recent spurt in militancy-related violence in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre has convened a high-level State-specific review meeting here on Wednesday next.

Even as the security-related issues are expected to attract pointed attention during day-long discussions, the meeting is also slated to take stock of the near financial bankruptcy in the troubled border State. The review meeting which will be chaired by Union Home Minister L. K Advani will also be attended by Defence Minister George Fernandes, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission K.C Pant,Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah besides senior civil and police officers from the Centre and the State and also military commanders in charge of counter-insurgency operations in the State.

Significantly, the review meeting will be the first of its kind to be held after the installation of the Vajpayee-led NDA Government at the Centre. The implementation of the decisions taken at two review meetings held during the BJP-led Government's earlier tenure has reportedly been tardy.

Even as sections in the Government at the Centre are concerned at the lackadaisical performance of the Farooq Government, Jammu and Kashmir's ruling party leaders have accused the BJP-led Government of doing precious little to bail out the State from a precarious financial situation.

Informed sources said that the Centre had repeatedly communicated its concern to the State Government over its mismanagement of the resources, misuse of allocations by way of shifting focus from priority areas to non-developmental sectors and a general lack of accountability of excessive spending at the bureaucratic levels. It is reported to have suggested realisation of added revenue including massive backlogs in unpaid taxes gobbled by a powerful few with pronounced political connections.

The State Government, on its part, has been pressing for a special economic dispensation including a waiver on its accumulated debt worth Rs 1,275 crore. It has also demanded total reimbursement of security-related expenditure.

Reliable sources said that Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had for long resisted the Centre's "gentle suggestions" to revamp the State administration with key changes in the top bureaucratic echelons of the State.

Maintaining that the situation in the border State had worsened due to the absence of the Centre's cogent Kashmir policy, the sources indicated that the absence of a political direction during the recent months of staggered Lok Sabha polls had also contributed a great deal in the prevailing sorry state of affairs in the State.

Home Ministry's Department of Kashmir Affairs headed by Home Secretary Kamal Pandey is also being singled out as a contributory component in the prevailing mess.

The sources averred that the department had not only become nearly defunct but also remained a mute witness to the ever-growing militant activities in the State even as Mr Pandey continues to familiarise himself with the nuts and bolts of its functions. A case in point is the abysmally low voter turn out and consequent allegations of rigging during the recent Lok Sabha polls in the Valley.

Surprisingly, as against co-ordinating the investigative efforts of the three bordering States - J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, following the Thursday bomb blasts in Delhi bound train at Kandrori near Jammu, the Home Secretary continued with his futuristic policy planning group discussions all through the day on Friday.

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