April 2000 News

Pak still pushing militants across LoC says George

11 April 2000
Asian Age

New Delhi: Defence minister George Fernandes on Tuesday said there was ''no let up'' in attempts by Pakistan to push mercenaries and militants across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. ''Although there is some decrease in the level of shelling by Pakistani forces on the LoC there is no let up in attempts to sneak heavily armed mercenaries and militants,'' Mr Fernandes said after the military investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The defence minister said Pakistani forces, at the height of tension during the past six months, were firing up to 5,000 rounds a week but now this had now comedown to almost 1,000 rounds a week. ''But the same cannot be said to be true of their attempts to push in militants and armed bands into Jammu and Kashmir,'' Mr Fernandes said. Asked about his earlier warning to troops to be ready for a ''hot summer'' in Jammu and Kashmir, defence minister said adequate steps had been taken to prepare of any eventuality. On reports of Pakistani troop build-up close to the Sir Creek area off Gujarat, he said this could be linked with Pakistani attempts to raise the shooting down of their naval aircraft, in the area last year, at the international court at The Hague. However, Mr Fernandes said Pakistani moves at Sir Creek or elsewhere could only be best termed as ''diversionary ploys, adding that Pakistan main focus continues to be on Kashmir. Union home minister L.K. Advani, who was also present, said the release of Hurriyat leaders was a ''conscious decision'' of the government. He said the release was aimed at starting a dialogue with dissident groups in Jammu and Kashmir.


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