June 2002 News

3,000 terrorists in Kashmir: Fernandes

21 June 2002
The Hindustan Times

Jammu: While insurgency levels into Kashmir from Pakistan have dropped, there are still some 3,000 Islamic terrorists already in the territory ready to carry out murderous acts, Defence Minister George Fernandes warned on Friday. However, India''s security agencies would, he added, take on the terrorists'' in the due course of time''. Fernandes told reporters the terrorists had crossed into Kashmir under covering fire ''provided by Pakistani troops''. The defence minister repeated a statement he made on Thursday that infiltration levels were drastically down but said that until they were completely halted, there would be no de-escalation of Indian forces on the borders with Pakistan. ''We are not withdrawing troops deployed on the border,'' he said. ''We will consider de-escalation only when we are satisfied that infiltration has been permanently stopped by the other side.'' Fernandes, who earlier in the day visited various frontline areas in Jammu region, warned that the ''border is still volatile''. Troops were were in ''action on both sides and there is no change in the border scene'', he said. Fernandes said India was now awaiting a Pakistani response to the ''concrete steps to defuse the situation'' taken by New Delhi. In the meantime, he added, ''our forces will continue our fight against terrorists in Jammu Kashmir as long as is necessary''.


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