March 2007 News

150 places vacated by security forces

11 March 2007
The Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: A day after a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has sent a letter to the Centre giving details of the armed forcesí vacating civilian premises ever since he took over the top post. The letter was despatched by the Chief Minister hours after he landed in Jammu this morning to apprise the Central leadership of the steps initiated by his Government to vacate the civilian property from the armed forces. Azadís ruling alliance partner PDP has been demanding reduction of security forces in the State. According to the sources, Azad informed that nearly 150 houses, buildings and orchards had been vacated by the security forces between November 2005 to February 2007. Sources in Congress heading the coalition dispensation said the State Government had suo moto began the process of vacating civilian property as it believed in work at the ground level and accused it PDP of indulging in 'political gimmick'. The Prime Minister had chaired a high-level marathon meeting last night to discuss the state of relations between Congress and PDP. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Azad participated in the three-hour long meeting. Based on Azadís letter, Congress is likely to send a tough message to PDP asking it to stop putting up 'unnecessary hurdles' in the functioning of the State Government, the sources said. PDP has stayed away from the last two Cabinet meetings. Putting a strain on ties with Congress, PDP Ministers stayed away from two successive Cabinet meetings to press for holding a special Cabinet meeting to discuss troop reduction, repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the State and vacating of civilian property by the armed forces. The Centre wants to convey to PDP that troop withdrawal would be done only after the situation in the State became conducive as the life of innocents could not be risked.


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