NSA briefs cabinet on Kashmir situation

21 August 2008
The Hindustan Times

New Delhi: National Security Adviser (NSA) MK Narayanan on Thursday briefed the cabinet on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been on the boil for nearly three months over the allotment of land to a government trust that administers the Amarnath shrine. 'The NSA briefed the cabinet on the situation in Kashmir,' Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday after a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The minister replied in the negative when asked whether the government would take any new initiative to restore normalcy in the state that has been sharply polarised along religious lines because of the land row. The prime minister has already taken the initiative (of sending an all-party delegation to Kashmir). If there is a further breakthrough, I'll let you know, Dasmunsi said. Narayanan had Wednesday paid a daylong visit to Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar to study the situation in the state. According to officials, he had expressed his concern over the developments in the last few months, especially in the Kashmir valley, where separatists had been organising massive public rallies like they did in the 1990s. The NSA, who was accompanied by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief, also attended a high level meeting chaired by Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra to review the security situation in the valley, where thousands of protesters had turned out in response to the call given by separatist leaders during the last 10 days. Besides Narayanan and IB chief AC Haldar, Kashmir Chief Secretary SS Kapoor, Home Commissioner Anil Goswami, police chief Kuldeep Khoda, additional director general of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) AK Ghosh, and the commanders of the three army corps in the state also attended the meeting. Senior central and state intelligence officers also briefed the NSA about the surcharged atmosphere in both the valley and the Jammu region. Sources also said the meeting deliberated over the inputs provided by the intelligence agencies and the possible ways and means to deal with the situation in the coming days. 'The team would prepare a detailed note for the PMO (Prime Minister's Office), taking into account the perceptions carried by the team from its visit to the valley,' said an official. Narayanan's trip came in the wake of the bitter Amarnath land row that has created an unprecedented communal divide in the country's only Muslim-majority state. The allotment in May of 40 hectares of land to the Amarnath shrine had triggered protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley prompting the government to take back the land. This provoked a sharp reaction in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.