August 2001 News

Disturbed Area Act fails to make mark in Jammu

19 August 2001
The Pioneer
Binoo Joshi

Jammu: Nothing much seems to have changed on ground in Jammu region despite it being declared the ''disturbed area'' nearly two weeks ago to facilitate highest level of offensive against the militants, who are fast enveloping the area. There have been few odd ''successes'' projected by the Army and paramilitary forces. The Army killed nine militants in two border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, a day earlier the police killed three militants close to the border town of Akhnoor. That''s all to show for a ''disturbed area''. The security forces have been concentrated near the borders. The operations in the interiors have shown no signs of picking up. There are the same old constraints with the security forces which existed before the area was declared disturbed. Shortage of manpower with the security forces is a big challenge. ''We are running short of people to man the whole area and protect all the people. How can that happen?'' asked officers in security forces, who feel that men and machines are required in high numbers to put up an effective fight against militants. ''A simple legal provision will not help us. There has to be some teeth to it on the ground,'' an officer of Rashtriya Rifles'' Delta Force posted in Batote remarked. If the Army and paramilitary forces are complaining of a shortage of manpower, the local police neither has the manpower nor the required amount of weaponry. Hindu ''extremist'' groups are also disappointed. They are simply asking for Army rule in Jammu and Kashmir. ''Unless the State is handed over to the Army nothing is going to happen,'' says Yogesh Gupta, president of Akhil Bharatiya Shiv Sena. The BJP is divided in its opinion, though publicly it endorses the new tag that has been attached to the Jammu region. ''There should be action. We want action,'' says Daya Krishan Kotwal, president of the State unit of BJP. While there is cry for action by the Hindu groups, Muslims are unhappy the way things are being done. ''What was the need for the ''disturbed area''. Kashmir is a political problem, it needs to be addressed politically, not with guns and powers. That will only bring destruction and the State has already had enough of it,'' said a resident. The divided perceptions are adding to the problem because more than 60 per cent of the 4.5 million population in Jammu are Hindus, rest are mostly Muslims with a sprinkling of Sikhs. Hindus are a majority in Jammu, Udhampur and Kathua.


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