January 2000 News

More coordinated effort to tackle militancy being planned

5 January 2000
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

JAMMU: Extremely worried over the recent spurt of militant violence - the attack on the SOG headquarters and the powerful blast in Srinagar on Monday which killed 17 people - both the Central and State Governments are working on a new action plan to counter militancy.

Highly-placed sources in the State told The Hindu, that the Union Home Ministry has convened a meeting on Friday to chalk out the future strategy in the wake of the renewed and reformed phase of militancy taking a heavy toll on civilians as well as the security forces. The meeting is being attended by top officials of the Ministry and the heads of paramilitary forces. The State is being represented by the Director-General of Police, Mr. Gurbachan Jagat.

Sources said the functioning of various security agencies would be discussed. The Centre is said to be concerned about the lack of coordination between them which has "adversely affected" their overall performance. The view is that "joint operations need not be seen as a race to score points", as a source remarked.

In this connection, the functioning of the Unified Headquarters (UH), both in Srinagar and Jammu, is being reviewed threadbare. Though there is no immediate move to replace the UH, this is likely at a later stage at the PMO level.

At present, the Centre is busy formulating an action plan, though this is yet to be given formal shape. This plan, the sources said, wold stress upon the concentration of more troops on ground and equipping the State police with the latest, sophisticated weaponry.

The plan is said to be necessitated also by the fact the "the new setup that has taken over in Pakistan is far move militant-friendly and is giving it a new lease of life" as the State Police chief, Mr. Gurbachan Jagat, put it. "Foreign militants, who are well trained and better equipped, have reshaped the contours of militancy in the State."

Earlier, Srinagar was guarded by 18 BSF battalions. The number today is 12, following the overall de-induction of troops during the Kargil war. This provided an opportunity for the militants to strike.

The new strategy is also awaiting the arrival of the Chief Minister, Dr. Abdullah, from London, following which it will be discussed at the prime ministerial level. Sources did not rule out converting the UH into a Unified Command, with overall control at the apex level, which may see new changes in the security setup.


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