Patil To Visit J&K Next Week, Review Situation
22 June 2007
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Amid reports of increase in infiltration, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil will be visiting militancy-torn Jammu and Kashmir next week to review the security situation in the State. Patil, who will be accompanied by some of the senior officials of the Ministry, would meet officials from the Army, police, intelligence agencies and local heads of para-military forces to chalk out the future strategy for countering the influx from across the border, official sources said here. The visit comes at a time when infiltration figures for May and June show a considerable increase over the corresponding period last year. The Army, during its recent meeting with the Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta, had said that the border fence in north Kashmir will be repaired by end of this month as the area was being regularly used by militants to sneak into Indian territory. Patil's day-long visit comes ahead of the Indo-Pak Home Secretary level talks early next month during which the issue is likely to figure prominently. Gupta had himself undertaken a two- day visit to the State earlier this month during which he had announced setting up a committee for rehabilitation of widows and orphans of militants killed in encounter with security forces. Patil, during his visit to the Valley, will review decisions taken at the Third Round Table Conference held here in April this year. The visit also assumes significance in view of the growing friction between the ruling Congress in the State and its ally PDP over the demand for demilitarisation and withdrawal of Armed Forces (Special) Power Act. PDP has been holding rallies to drum up public support for its demand to reduce troops. However, Defence Minister A K Antony has rejected the demand saying that two expert committees, including one headed by Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt, were going into the matter and a decision would be taken on the basis of their recommendation. The State Government too believes that the situation is not congenial for reduction of troops from the current level in view of the latest infiltration figures. Patil is also likely to review the security arrangements for the pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine, particularly the requirement of additional paramilitary forces for multi-layer security along the route from Jammu to Pahalgam in south Kashmir.