May 2002 News

Govt places para-military forces on border under Army control

19 May 2002
The Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: India tonight warned Pakistan of befitting retaliatory action if it violated the sanctity of the border as it placed para-military forces along the International Boundary and Line of Control under operational command of the Army and the Coast Guard under the Navy. Indian Army shall conduct immediate retaliatory fire assaults every time any such incidents are committed by Pakistan along the LoC and International Border, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh told reporters after more than two-hour meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Singh asserted that Indian forces would retaliate whenever there was firing on Indian targets from the Pakistani side. Mr Singh said the 15 and 16 Corps had been asked to retaliate against any mortar or artillery fire by Pakistan. Necessary information in this regard would be given by the Defence Ministry from time to time. He said Pakistan had resorted to heavy unprovoked firing on villages in the Jammu-Poonch- Rajouri sectors in which two people were killed. The Indian army conducted retaliatory fire assaults, which caused heavy damages across the border. Asked if India proposed to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan, Mr Singh said the issue did figure at the CCS meeting but a decision on it would be taken after Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran returns from his foreign tour. On whether India had cancelled the Indus water treaty talks with Pakistan, he said this is purely speculation . This was the second meeting of the CCS in as many days in the wake of the Kaluchak massacre by terrorists, supported by Pakistan. The Government had yesterday asked Pakistan to withdraw its High Commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi after the CCS approved of this decision. Mr Singh clarified that only the para-military forces operating on the border and the LoC, and not those on internal duty , were being placed under the control of the army as part of the standard operating procedure . It was realised that the command must be unified and hence a formal direction would be issued by the Defence Ministry tomrrow. Asked if India was contemplating any more diplomatic steps against Pakistan, he said the CCS discussed these and the External Affairs Ministry will keep you informed on this . Mr Singh said the atmosphere is rife with rumours and you must sift rumours from facts . To a question on whether the steps being taken by India were leading to a war-like situation, the minister said you are reading what you have to read...I do what I have to do . The CCS meeting was attended by Home Minister L K Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Mr Jaswant Singh, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K C Pant, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra, Army Chief Gen S Padmanabhan, Naval Chief Admiral Madhvendra Singh and senior military officials.


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