December 1999 News


No talks with Kashmiris: India

15 December 1999
The Nation

NEW DELHI-India Wednesday made it clear that it would not hold negotiations with the Kashmiri freedom fighters "unless they abide by the Constitution of India" and ruled out any talks involving the secession of held Jammu and Kashmir from Indian union.

Replying to a five-hour special discussion on national security and rise of violence in held Jammu and Kashmir and North-Eastern Indian states, the Indian Home Minister L. K. Advani said that talks with armed outfits or their political groups could be held "only within the framework of the Constitution." He said the government would consider if it would be worthwhile to hold negotiations with them "at this juncture when they were losing local support." Indian minister also announced that an Army Cantonment would soon come up in Doda district. He said that funds were earmarked for the project a year ago, but was delayed due to Army's engagements in Kargil.

Advani did not agree with the Congress leader Rajesh Pilot's assessment that violence was on rise in the held State. Elaborating, the Minister said he was satisfied with the situation as his barometer was not the killings but the arrival of tourists in the Kashmir Valley. He said that while just 322 tourists visited the Valley in 1995, a whooping number of 1,94,032 tourists excluding Amaranth and Vaishnu Devi pilgrims visited the Valley "signifying his government's success in infusing security in the minds of people." He described it as a big achievement of his government. Indian Home Minister admitted that the Army and the Central forcescould not resolve problem. He asked the held state government to learn from the experience of Punjab and "mobilise local authorities and state police." "Three elements reversed the tide in Punjab, the motivation of common people, dedication of state government and virility of the state police."

Advani clarified that Centre was fully reimbursing the security related expenditures (SRE) to the held state, but admitted that there was differences in defining the SRE. The held state government led by Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah had been insisting to include the salaries of migrant Hindu employees and losses in public sector units under the SRE. But New Delhi has so far resisted the move.

The Home Minister said that an amount of Rs. 1498 crore has been so far provided under SRE to held Jammu and Kashmir. During the current financial year, he said, an amount of Rs. 180 crore have already been released for the security related needs. Disputing the figures of casualties presented by the Opposition members, Advani said that as per official figures 7,960 civilians were killed during the past 10 years in Jammu and Kashmir, while 2393 security personnel fell to militant bullets. The casualties of militants was at 10,700, he added.

Drawing parallel between Pakistan's defeat during 1971 war and its withdrawing troops from Kargil, Advani said that "Pakistan has intensified its proxy war against India out of failure and frustration". He said the genesis of militancy lies in Pakistan's defeat during 1971 war.

Pakistan wile realising that "it could not match India in the battlefield hatched the plan to fight proxy war on the Indian soil without losing even a single of its soldier." Advani reiterated that his government would soon come out with a 'white paper' on "Pakistan's ISI-sponsored activities in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country and adopt a two- pronged strategy to effectively combat terrorism."

Amidst thumping of desks, he said the United States had for the first time acknowledged that "Pakistan backed cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir after the Kargil conflict" and regretted that Washington had earlier declined to recognise it. On efforts being made by New Delhi to get Pakistan declared a 'terrorist State', he said that while international opinion in this regard would be of help, there would be no let-up in operations by Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

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