August 2000 News

We Will not yield to terrorism: Vajpayee

4 August 2000

New Delhi: The Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, informed Parliament today that his Government would not allow violence to impede the peace process in Jammu and Kashmir. He urged all militant groups to come forward for talks, saying they should realise that people wanted peace. Underlining the Government's carrot-and-stick approach, the Prime Minister said while the fight against terrorism would continue there would be no let-up in the efforts to restore peace and the dialogue with the Hizbul Mujahideen was part of this effort. 'We will not yield to terrorism,' Mr. Vajpayee said in an identical statements in the two Houses on his visit to the State following the latest massacres. The statement was overshadowed by the Congress(I)'s strident demand for a judicial probe into intelligence and security lapses which, it contended, led to the killings. Its president and leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, charged the Government with 'inexcusable' slackness and said it was important to fix the responsibility for what had happened. In the Lok Sabha, the Congress(I) members walked out protesting the Government's unwillingness to accept their demand, while in the Rajya Sabha, the senior leader, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, wanted the Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani, to own moral responsibility for the killings and resign. Confronted with a volley of demands for clarifications from the Opposition members in the Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister said he would respond to them on Monday. In the Lok Sabha, Ms. Gandhi insisted that nothing short of a judicial inquiry would satisfy her party. She said the Prime Minister at his press conference in Srinagar indirectly admitted that there had been a security lapse. He said 'there were no serious security lapses. In other words, he admits that indeed there were security lapses,' she claimed. Ms. Gandhi, speaking amid interruptions immediately after the Prime Minister's statement, said the responsibility for the security lapse must be fixed and that's why her party wanted a judicial probe. The Government seemed to have 'taken leave of its conscience' but 'we in th Congress have not'. She demanded 'very strong measures' to ensure that 'such insensitive slackness' did not occur again. She also wanted the Government to tell the Opposition what it intended doing to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. Earlier, as soon as the House met, she said the 'lapses on the part of the Government are inexcusable' and many questions needed to be answered. The Prime Minister said foolproof arrangements for the Amarnath pilgrims were not possible as the occasion was like a 'mela', but it did not seem that serious security lapses had occurred. The State Government had already ordered an executive inquiry and if necessary a judicial probe could be held later. This did not satisfy the Congress(I) and its members walked out, with the deputy leader, Mr. Madhavrao Scindia, accusing the Government of being 'insensitive'. In his statement asking the militants to give up violence, the Prime Minister said:'It is futile for them to continue on the path of violence. They should come forward for talks with the Government for redressal of their grievances.' The perpetrators of Tuesday's carnage were foreigners and arms and ammunitions recovered from them clearly established their links with Pakistan-based Laskhar-e-Taiba, he said. His visit was intended to assure the people of the State that the entire nation was behind them. In the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Eduardo Falerio wanted to know what steps the Government would take to convince Pakistan to close down terrorist-training camps there. Mr. Arjun Singh charged that the 'spirit of accountability' was slurred by sentiments. Mr. Sanjay Nirupam (Shiv Sena) asked whether the Government was willing to hold talks with the Hizbul Mujahideen without any precondition, while Mr. Shankar Roy Chowdhary urged the Centre to ensure that no part of Jammu and Kashmir which is with India be ceded. Mr. Kuldip Nayyar (nominated) said that after a recent meeting with Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, he said both countries must hold fire to which the latter agreed. Mr. Nayyar said he had carried the message to the Prime Minister and was still awaiting his response. The Janata Dal leader, Mr. S. R. Bommai, sought to know whether the Government had a master plan to counter terrorist activities and prevent recurrence of such events.


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