August 2000 News

Situation In Kashmir Changing Rapidly: PM

17 August 2000

New Delhi: Reiterating that India wanted peace in Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, today blamed Pakistan for exercising its influence for withdrawal of the ceasefire that derailed the recent peace process. Sounding a note of caution to Pakistan, Mr. Vajpayee told a meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Party here, ''we are fully ready to deal with any kind of situation effectively.'' In his Independence Day address, he had said that while on the one hand Pakistan proclaimed its readiness for dialogue, on the other it aided and abetted cross-border terrorism. Admitting that the situation was ''rapidly changing'' in Jammu and Kashmir, he said instances of infighting among militant groups had come to light, referring to the recent clash between the Pakistan-backed Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Hizb-ul- Mujahideen cadres in Rajouri district. Several party MPs suggested that, perhaps, the information flow about incidents in Jammu and Kashmir had not been handled properly by the Government. Briefing reporters later, the party spokesperson, Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu, said several MPs felt ''positive aspects'' of the security forces'' preventive action in the State often went unreported as also incidents of village defence committees effectively handling dangers posed by the militants. While incidents of militants'' strikes got wide publicity, attempts by the security forces to defuse bombs, seizure of explosives and encounters with militants were not given similar exposure. The manner in which MPs raised the issue seemed to suggest that there was dissatisfaction in the BJP over the handling of the Kashmir affairs by the Prime Minister''s Office and the Union Home Ministry. Responding to the MPs'' concerns, the Prime Minister said the media was free to report the events from its perspective. He, however, refrained from spelling out any corrective steps being contemplated by the Government. Earlier, the Union Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani, said the Government was still open to talks with all those in Kashmir who shunned the path of terror and violence.


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