George rules out unilateral ceasefire in Valley
23 October 2000
The Times of India
Srinagar: Defence minister George Fernandes here on Monday ruled out a unilateral ceasefire against militants in Jammu and Kashmir and claimed the Indian Army ''cannot remain inactive against infiltration from across the border''. Fernandes, who was on a two-day tour of the Valley, described as ''baseless'' reports that nine divisions of the Pakistan army had been mobilised across the borders in Kutch sector. The situation on the borders with Pakistan and China and the lines of control were tension-free, he said. The defence minister said there was no truth in the reports that Pakistan had sent nine divisions on Kutch borders. One division had been deployed as a routine exercise measure and the troops were deployed, at least, 75 km from the borders. ''There is no need for that country to give notice to India as the troops are deployed too far from the borders,'' he said. Fernandes said there was neither any threat nor any challenge from Pakistan and there was also no possibility of any deception from the enemy. There was no major change on the Line of Control where intermittent firings were taking place, he added. Fernandes said he agreed with the views of Army chief Gen S. Padmabhanan that ''Kashmir is a political problem'' which can be solved only through the political process of dialogue. A process was started when the Hizbul Mujahideen offered to hold talks, but it was sabotaged by Pakistan which did not wish the Valley to be peaceful, the defence minister said adding that conflicts like Kashmir could be resolved only through dialogue. The defence minister said the Indian Army was always on the defensive and acted only in reaction to the designs of the infiltrators in the Valley. Claiming that the entire border was well-protected, Fernandes said he did not foresee any limited war or any Kargil-type intrusion. Kargil was never protected in the period between 1972 and 1999, he explained and added it was well-fortified now. The IAS probationers should be sent to Jammu and Kashmir for a two-year period during their training period to tone up the state administration and develop it, he suggested. Fernandes refused to react to home minister L K Advani''s statement that the RSS was placed in the same way with the BJP-led government as Mahatma Gandhi was to the Congress. It was Advani''s personal view and he saw no reason to react to it, he said.