November 2002 News

''J&K Govt. was cautioned against release of militants''

26 November 2002
The Hindu

NEW DELHI: The Congress and the BJP continued to swipe at each other on the issue of release of detainess in Jammu and Kashmir. The Congress once again asserted today that the State Government had consulted the Central intelligence agencies before releasing the detainess. But the BJP maintained that it had not done so. Addressing a BJP parliamentary meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, said the Jammu and Kashmir Government had not sought any advice from the Centre on its decision to release the militants. ''There was no consultation with the Central Government and we had no knowledge about the release of the militants. There is no truth in it that any kind of clearance was taken from the Centre,'' Mr. Advani said. Refuting the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi''s claim that J&K Government had obtained clearance from the Central intelligence agencies before freeing the jailed militants in the State, Mr. Advani termed it as ''baseless'' and maintained that the Centre was not consulted. Briefing reporters after the meeting, the party spokesman, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, said that Mr. Advani told the members that an official letter by the Union Home Secretary to the J&K Government had ''cautioned'' against the release of dreaded militants. He said the Home Secretary''s letter about a week ago had advised the State Government ''not to hurry'' with such a crucial decision. Mr. Malhotra said the Deputy Prime Minister had even publicly offered a suggestion of setting up a screening committee to look into the cases before deciding upon the release of the jailed militants but the State Government went ahead with it. He said Mr. Advani had told the members that any kind of communication between the Government and the Intelligence agency should not be made public. ''It seems that the Congress-People''s Democratic Party alliance has made some election promises and appears to be in a hurry to fulfil them. It would only lead to heightened tension. It is time the State Government took steps to curb terrorism,'' he said. Mr. Malhotra said that some of the members demanded tougher action against Pakistan to crush cross-border terrorism. He also objected to the Congress president''s reported comments in Jammu on Monday wherein she had rebuffed those who suggested that the Congress was going soft on tackling terrorism. ''Her remarks show a sign of immaturity,'' he added. Congress charge The Congress spokesperson, Jaipal Reddy, today said the J&K Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had met the Special Director, Intelligence Bureau, K. M. Singh, on November 7 regarding the release of the militants. Conscious of the BJP''s attempts to cash in on the issue in the coming Gujarat elections, the Congress revealed details of the interaction with the Central agencies. ''Senior IB officers, including members of the Unified Command, were consulted,'' Mr. Reddy told newspersons. The restraint shown by both the sides during Monday''s debate on the Raghunath temple killings appeared to have dissipated today as both sides went for the jugular. The Congress labelled the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, L.K.Advani, ''an incorrigible communal propagandist'' who was more interested in scoring points in the context of the Gujarat polls. Defending the State Government''s decision, Mr. Reddy said that none of the released persons was involved in any overt terrorist activity. Yasin Malik had, in fact, been released six times, and the BJP Government had in the past facilitated the release of Abdul Gani Bhat and others. PTI reports: The Congress was considering moving a privilege motion against Mr. Advani in the Lok Sabha for ''misleading the House on release of militants'' as the verbal war between the main opposition and the ruling party today reached a new high. ''We are examining the possibility of moving a privilege motion against Mr. Advani for attempting to mislead the House,'' Mr. Reddy said.


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