Defence Secretary Visits Forward Areas
6 July 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt today visited border districts of Baramulla and Kupwara to assess if the security situation was conducive for relocation and reconfiguration of troops in the strife- torn State. Dutt heads an expert panel constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on March 30 to carry out an in-depth assessment of the security situation in the State and to determine whether there was any need to relocate and reconfigure troops in the State. The panel was formed following a demand by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a key coalition partner in the State, for troop reduction in the militancy-hit State. He had detailed discussions with civil and Army officials in both the frontier districts. During his two-day visit to the State, Dutt visited Rajouri, Poonch and Doda district in Jammu region yesterday. He also visited Awantipora and later held a detailed meeting with senior civil, Army, paramilitary, intelligence and police officials here last evening. The Defence Secretary also called on Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad here last evening. Sources said that at the meeting, Azad briefed Dutt about the security situation in the State and also expressed serious apprehensions about any move to reduce troops. Azad has been repeatedly opposing any troop reduction in the troubled State till the situation improves. The panel would prepare a detailed report on its assessment of the security situation in the State and later submit it to a high-powered committee, chaired by Defence Minister A K Antony, and compromising representatives of the Central and State Governments.