August 2006 News

Govt committed to peace, but Hurriyat not interested: Azad

4 August 2006
The Daily Excelsior
By Sarwar Kashani

Srinagar: Claiming that peace process initiated by the Centre with India and Pakistan was on, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today claimed that there was an 'overall' improvement in security scenario of the State and situation has vastly improved than what it was during vicissitudes of time between 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2005. In a forceful contradiction to opposition blames that Mirwaiz's Hurriyat Conference has been left at 'crossroads' by Centre Mr Azad said that Centre gave an ample opportunity to Hurriyat to come forward with a sound proposal for resolving Kashmir issue but it (Hurriyat) was concealing 'something', which forbade them from participating in the roundtable conference. Replying to a discussion on security situation in the Assembly, the Chief Minister in his statistical speech in the Lower House on the final day of the summer session asked the political parties to join hands with the Government in 'fighting the militancy and moving forward' for overall development of the State. Appreciating 'concerns' of the National Conference about human rights violations, he asked the MLAs to present the picture of every side and don't highlight the rights violations from one side only. 'As conscious citizens and responsible representatives we should condemn human rights violations but at the same time we shall also appreciate our protectors (security forces), who are undergoing tough conditions in protecting us,' Azad said. 'I don't claim that human rights violations have reduced to zero. There are incidents but situation has vastly improved even though the target of zero on the human rights front is yet to be achieved,' he said, adding about 4000 to 5000 troopers have died while fighting menace of terrorism in the State. 'Do we ever mention to condemn the killing of security forces? I mean all of us fear that militants would be displeased if killing of a trooper is condemned,' he said. Reiterating that human rights violations were intolerable to any conscious Government, the Chief Minister asserted that the Government has strictly ordered the Army and other security agencies to treat the civilians as family members and ensure no damage is done to their life and property. 'This is the reason that the graph of human rights violations by the security agencies has gradually declined during last many years and reached to lowest in 2006 when only one disappearance and two cases of custodial killings have been reported,' Azad said. He claimed that security scenario in the State has witnessed an overall improvement since 1990 and is constantly improving for the past few years. 'I don't say but figures speak,' he said adding, 'since the day elected representatives came into power in the year 1996, the graph of killings, custodial disappearances and militancy related incidents have witnessed steep fall.' Giving details of custodial disappearances in last 17 years of militancy in the State, Azad, said that from 1990 to 1996 there were 33 custodial disappearances, from 1996 to 2002, 60 people disappeared and from 2002-2006 there were only 15 custodial disappearances. On the custodial killings' front, Azad said that from 1990-1996 there were 220 custodial killings, from 1996 to 2002, 67 people were killed in custody while as from 2002 to 2006, 27 custodial deaths have been reported and during last eight months only two custodial deaths have occurred. Without giving clean chit to security forces, he said that the Government was keenly targetting to zero custodial deaths even as 'security forces need praises for coming tough on militants.' Giving details of violence related incidents in the state since 1990, Azad said that from 1990- 1996, 34,890 violent incidents have occurred, from 1996 to 2002 the number of violent incidents came down to 21,115 and from 2002 to 2006 this came further down to 8960. '…and from November 2005 till date there has been 17 percent decline in the violent incidents in comparison to situation during corresponding time gap last year,' he said. Referring to civilian killings, Azad said that from 1990 to 1996, 7727 civilians were killed while as from 1996 to 2002, 6924 civilians lost their lives and 2395 civilians were killed in various militancy related incidents from 2002 to 2006. 'In comparison to a situation during the corresponding time last year, there has been an 18 percent decline in the civilian killings during last eight months,' Azad said. He also said that 57,240 grenades have been recovered by the security forces in the State while as 5881 grenade attacks were carried out from 1990 to 2006. '1994 recorded 1841 grenade attacks, which is the highest number while as in the year 2002 there were 284 grenade blasts. In the current year 158 grenade attacks have taken place,' he added. Giving details of Fidayeen attacks, Azad said that from 1999 (since militants resorted to suicide attacks) to 2002, 57 suicide attacks took place and from November 2003 to 2006, 31 attacks occurred while as from 1999 to 2002, 141 civilians have lost their lives in fidayeen attacks and from 2002 to 2006, 16 civilians were killed in these attacks. 'These figures should clarify that there has been decline in the violence through the vicissitudes of time,' Azad said. 'Much hype is being created about security scenario of the State and it is being reiterated again and again that there is no improvement in the situation. However, the facts and figures available with the Government contradict what people say, who do keep on blowing trumpet about the security scenario,' he said. Earlier opposition members, Ali Mohammed Sagar, Ajay Sadhotra, Dr Mehboob Beg, Shareef- ud-din Shariq and ally partners Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami and Peerzada Mohammed Hussain expressed their concerns over security scenario in the State and invited Government's attention towards the 'deteriorating' security in the State. Sagar, in his fiery speech, said that security was the concern of all and everybody. He said that recent escalation of violence points towards loopholes in the security and asked the Government to explain how militants manage their entry through the high security zones. He accused the Government of not taking the 'indicators' seriously and cashing on in opportunities. 'People came out to vote in heavy numbers during recent bye-elections and militants also choose not to strike. This opportunity should have been seized but instead people through killings and human rights abuses are being further alienated,' Sagar said. Sagar requested the Government to take the lead why militants choose not to strike during elections. 'This is an indicator and I request you to start talking to militants as undoubtedly they can make a difference,' he asserted. However, Chief Minister in reply to Sagar's assertions said that he was ready to talk to militant leadership however, he added, 'Just identify one militant commander whom I shall talk to.' 'There are many people being directed differently. People from various places are fighting here. And in this scenario identifying one relevant leader is difficult,' he said, adding, 'Do you want me to talk to Pakistan based Lashkar-e- Toiba?' NC's Mehboob Beg accused the Government of resorting to adhocism and not drawing long term security plans. He said that Government of India deceived Hurriyat Conference by talking to them first and later leaving them at cross roads. He said that Government had not done enough of the homework to attract the Hurriyat for participating in the roundtable conference. However, Azad strongly rebuffing Dr Beg's statement said that New Delhi surrendered before the conditions of Hurriyat Conference to ensure their participation and despite that they didn't turn up and it's their fault. 'For the first time, I am making it public that Hurriyat gave four reasons for spurning the first roundtable conference and laid down four conditions for their participation in the second one, which we accepted and implemented,' he said. Azad elaborated that Hurriyat stayed away from the Roundtable Confab saying the information received about it was late and not through the proper channel. They also wanted to have one meeting with the Prime Minister before the second roundtable and claimed that first roundtable confab was crowded with 75 participants, Azad said. 'For the second roundtable we reduced the participants to 26, informed them well in advance through a proper channel (State Government) and Prime Minister also met them separately and despite all this they didn't turn up,' he said, adding 'kucch tou hai jis ki parda daari hai'. 'Since the time Congress led UPA Government has come to power at the Centre, all efforts have been made by the Centre leadership, especially the Prime Minister, to carry forward the dialogue process. Prime Minister holding two round table conferences and meeting Hurriyat leaders separately is an ample proof of interest being shown by PM,' he added. Azad further said, PM has been showing keen interest in carrying forward the dialogue process, however, no interest is being shown by the Hurriyat leadership is hampering the process.' Referring to suggestion of the opposition National Conference (NC), of holding dialogue with Kashmiri separatists on the pattern of Nagaland, Azad, said, 'Conditions, in Nagaland are different from Jammu and Kashmir. In Nagaland there is no interference of third country and they have identified their leaders.' 'Here whom should we talk to? Here everybody claims that he is the leader. In these circumstances dialogue on the pattern of Nagaland cannot be held.' BJP MLA Jugal Kishore used the opportunity of discussion to voice concern over the demand of the people of Kulhand and other areas of Doda district to provide them protection and weapons. Their demand has not been met with so far, he regretted. Later, the Speaker adjourned the House sine die.


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