April 2001 News

Fencing of Indo-Pak border will not stop

15 April 2001
The Pioneer
Deepak Sharma

On board BSF aircraft: Union Home Minister L K Advani said on Sunday that despite strong protests from Islamabad, India will not stop fencing the Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir. "We cannot compromise on key security issues. Even if Pakistan opposes the move, fencing work on the international border will continue," he asserted. Speaking to a few select journalists on board BSF's Avro aircraft, Mr Advani said that despite protests from certain quarters, India resumed construction of the fence. "For the last two months fencing is in progress in Kathua-Jammu sector. The project will cover 200 kms on the Indo-Pak border in the Jammu sector. To put a check on trans-border crimes, the fencing work has to be continued on all costs," he added. On the peace initiatives being taken by the Government on Kashmir front, the Home Minister said that post-Kargil, international opinion has changed in favour of India. Even US President George Bush's recent talk with Jaswant Singh ended on a positive note. "We hope that once our principal negotiator K C Pant begins a dialogue the situation will improve. It has been suggested to Mr Pant that besides various groups in Kashmir, he should also hold talks with the recently elected candidates of the panchayat," Mr Advani said. When asked about the forthcoming Assembly elections in five states, the BJP stalwart was of the view that his party has not much at stake. "In three states (Kerala, West Bengal, Pondicherry) we do not have even one MP. In the other two (Assam and Tamil Nadu) we have just five. Still one of our allies - DMK in Tamil Nadu - will again have the mandate," he said, while adding, "on the basis of certain inputs, I have a reason to say that Karunanidhi will lead the state once more." The BJP ideologue felt that if Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had remained with the NDA, the situation would have been better. "Nevertheless Mamata's decision is now creating problems for others. It's for them to worry," he said. In fact Mr Advani was of the opinion that in the two Left Front-ruled states of Kerala and West Bengal, the fight was between the "red brigade" and the Congress. On Janata Party leader Subramaniam Swami's allegation levelled against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the Home Minister said that everyone knows what sort of allegations have been made and by whom. "It is a fact that Swami's letter was acknowledged by us and later forwarded to the concerned ministry from where it reached the CBI. It's a routine process. I want to clarify that at no stage the Government held any discussion to decide on initiating a CBI probe against Ms Gandhi. No such decision has been taken," he explained. When asked about the possibility of handing over the enquiry of Tehelka case to CBI, Mr Advani said that in a particular matter two simultaneous enquiries are never ordered. "The Staines murder case was an exception because it was altogether a different issue. There was a registered FIR and a specialised criminal investigation was essential. However in Tehelka case the Government itself has ordered a judicial probe. We even requested the Chief Justice of India to appoint a sitting Judge to head the commission of enquiry. What more could be done," he said.


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