May 2001 News

Farooq’s quit threat may be poll-propelled

28 May 2001
The Indian Express
Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar: JAMMU and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah threatened to step down at a recent closed-door Unified Headquarters (UHQ) meeting here over what he called a rise in rights violations by security forces in the state. Union Home Minister L.K. Advani was presiding over the meet. The May 19 UHQ meeting, sources said, reverberated with Abdullah’s displeasure. Advani was forced to clarify ‘‘Farooq’s misgivings’’ in a statement issued soon after the meeting. Defence Minister Jaswant Singh also attended the meeting. Sources said Abdullah referred to some specific instances and sought explanation about them from the Corps Commander. The 15 Corps Commander, sources said, assured Abdullah that he would give information on the incidents later. Advani’s reply on the Army’s role in Kashmir in his statement was believed to be an attempt to quieten Abdullah’s agitation and mellow him down. ‘‘It is of immense delight to learn that the the work done by armed forces in the development of border regions, has earned Army immense respect and endeared them to people. “And if there has been any excess committed anywhere, security forces have never condoned it,’’ Advani said. Sources said Abdullah pulled up Army authorities and also asked Singh to ensure that no high-handedness took place. ‘‘If these things don’t stop, I will resign. Nobody lends ear to our concerns,’’ sources quoted Abdullah as having said during the UHQ meeting. Abdullah heads the Unified Headquarters and Corps Commanders of 15 and 16 Corps, which functions as security advisors to the state government. A senior government functionary confirmed this and said that the civil administration has earlier also expressed concern over the alleged security excesses at various fora, especially at the UHQ meetings. State police also deny allegations of excesses committed by police and its counter-insurgency wing, the Special Operation Group (SOG). A top police officer said,‘‘If any allegation is found correct, we take stern action against the guilty. The allegations of custodial killings at the hands of SOG are baseless. Give me proof, I will institute an inquiry.’’ Sources, however, said by raising such issues, Abdullah is trying to win over people with an eye on the forthcoming Assembly elections. The NC leadership is hoping this will translate into votes, a source said.


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