March 2003 News

Advani To Visit J&K Massacre Site

24 March 2003
The Times of India

New Delhi: Shaken by the gruesome massacre of 24 Kashmiri Pandits in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani will himself be visiting the strife-torn state on Tuesday for a first-hand assessment of the situation. After an emergency meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister Vajpayee on Monday, external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha said the DPM would brief the CCS after his return from the carnage site at Nadimarg village. 'The government condemns the incident in the strongest possible terms. We will keep the situation under review and take whatever steps necessary to meet it. The PM has expressed his sorrow and grief at the massacre and loss of innocent lives,' Sinha said after the 90-minute CCS meeting, which also reviewed the situation in Iraq. Army chief General N C Vij, who has just returned from J&K after reviewing the situation there, and top officials of the intelligence agencies briefed the CCS on the ground situation in the state. The massacre comes a day after the pro-azaadi Hizbul Mujahideen leader Abdul Majid Dar was gunned down by some unidentified persons in what is being seen as a well-planned step to derail any initiative to bring normalcy in J&K. Incidentally, the J&K government, headed by chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, was also planning to take some steps towards rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley as part of its 'healing-touch' policy. Army officers say the counter-insurgency grid in J&K is being further strengthened by boosting the force-levels of the Rashtriya Rifles. This becomes all the more important since militants will find it much easier to infiltrate from across the border after the snow in the mountain passes melts in the coming days. The CCS meeting was also attended by defence minister George Fernandes, finance minister Jaswant Singh, cabinet secretary Kamal Pande, home secretary N Gopalaswamy and top intelligence officials.


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