March 2004 News

Infiltration declined, not completely stopped: Sinha

17 March 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Cross-border infiltration from Pakistan into Jammu and Kashmir has not completely stopped although there has been a very appreciable decline in it following the series of measures taken by both countries in the recent past, State Governor Lt Gen (retd) S K Sinha said today. Speaking to some reporters on the sidelines of a function here to mark the launching of the on-line donations facility to the Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine, Lt Gen Sinha said four factors had actually brought about a major change in the situation. Changed situation along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) following the ceasefire announced last year, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s assurance that he would not allow his territory to be used to facilitate terrorism in J&K, increased vigil by the Indian Army and security forces including fencing along the borders and the recent winter, had played a great role in bringing down infiltration. 'There is no doubt a very appreciable decline in infiltration. But I cannot say that infiltration has completely stopped,' he said. The Governor also called on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee before coming to the function. Asked what did he discuss with the Prime Minister, he said it was a courtesy call and dicussed the overall situation in the State. Maintaining that there had been an overall improvement in the situation in the Valley, Lt Gen Sinha said there was no slackness in security. 'There is every reason for cautious optimism...We can’t relax vigil.' Elaborating, he said the changed environment on the border and the LoC by cessation of cross border firing and shelling had brought about a decline in infiltration as such firing earlier provided a cover to infiltration. President Pervez Musharraf is on record having said that Pakistan would not allow its territory to be used to facilitate terrorism in J&K. 'We hope it actually translates on ground,' he added. Moreover, the Indian Army and security forces have been putting up fencing. 'I have been visiting such places both in the (Kashmir) valley and Jammu province. I am very satisfied with what has been done.' Also, in the Valley, winter is not conducive to infiltration which goes down in winter months, he added. Earlier, Lt Gen Sinha who inaugurated the Jammu and Kashmir bank’s online acceptance of donations facility for Shree Mata Vaishnodevi shrine, said in his address that with the launching of the facility, a 'very good beginning' had been made for developing the state’s economy and it would be the State Government’s endeavour to provide more facilities to pilgrims going to Vaishnodevi shrine and Amarnath in Kashmir. Facilities to both the shrines were being upgraded despite the difficulties of terrain and climate. He pointed out that the State Government’s target was to have more than five lakh pilgrims to Amarnath each year. More than 54 lakh pilgrims had visited the Vaishnodevi shrine last year which was an all time record, he added. Paying glowing tribiutes to the communal harmony in the Valley, what he described as 'Kashmiriyat,' and which has been witnessed in the facilities extended to Kashmiri Pandit pilgrims to Khirbhavani and other shrines in the Valley, the Governor said 'this is the Kashmiriyat we are proud of.' (UNI)


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