Govt finalises summer strategy, Amarnath yatra arrangements13 May 2011
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: The Government today gave a final touch to its ‘‘summer strategy’’ in Kashmir to maintain peace in the Valley at the Unified Headquarters meeting held in Srinagar, which was chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and attended by top brass of Army, police, civil administration, para-military forces and Intelligence agencies. ‘‘What kind of strategy we need to be adopt this summer in the Valley was discussed threadbare in nearly two hour long meeting and approved by the Chief Minister. The strategy would be put in place very soon’’, a senior officer, present in the meeting, told the Excelsior on the condition of anonymity. Mr Abdullah issued a set of instructions to all security agencies and civil administration to keep the summer peaceful. The meeting decided to implement the Standing Operation Procedures (SOPs), which has been approved by Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram with immediate effect. The SOPs was drafted by a high level national level committee headed by State DGP Kuldeep Khoda and was recently approved by the Union Home Ministry. The SOP mostly dealt with crowd dispersal and maintaining law and order with least use of force. It was based on twin objectives-ensure that law and order is maintained at all costs and keep use of force least depending upon the situation but, at the same time, didn’t allow the law and order go out of hands. ‘‘What are the likely factors which could lead to peace in the Valley this summer? What were the factors, which led to disturbances for three consecutive summers? What measures the Government and security agencies should take to maintain peace? And how to deal with various forms of protests, if at all they occur at any place in the Valley? These were the major points of strategy for the Valley this summer. Sources said the Government has decided to allow peaceful protests in Kashmir, if any. It has also directed police and para-military personnel not to use force on peaceful protests unless they turn violent. Some of the laser weapons, which the State would be getting by the end of June, would be used to avoid casualties on the protesters. Last summer, about 110 protesters were killed in firing by police and para-military personnel at different parts of Kashmir. Sources said the security agencies have been instructed to ensure that the casualties didn’t take place but, at the same time, the law and order situation shouldn’t go out of hands. The meeting was told that 258 youths, mostly the stone pelters or their perpetrators, were detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) after last summer’s protests and 83 of them have been released so far. Presently, 175 youth including some separatists and instigators of violence have been detained under PSA. A high level Government committee headed by Principal Secretary, Home, B R Sharma would soon hold a meeting to review more PSA detentions and order release of some of the detainees. Some preventive arrests have also been made during last month but simultaneously some arrested youth (under normal laws) have also been released or bailed out by the court. Sources said the reports of infiltration by the militants also came up for a high level review in the meeting. ‘‘Till April, there had been no reports of any kind of infiltration. However, suddenly in May, we have received reports of infiltration but these reports have not been verified on ground. Efforts were being made to ascertain whether some militants have managed to infiltrate into the Valley or not’’, sources said, adding that number of the ultras in the Valley had gone to an all time low and there were reports that Pakistan Army was trying to push some groups of militants in Kashmir ahead of summer. Arrangements for the upcoming Amarnath yatra were also reviewed in the meeting. The State Government had sought 65 additional companies of para-military from the Union Home Ministry for making tight security arrangement for the yatra. Sources said the Home Ministry has agreed to the request of the State Government. The additional companies would be ready well before start of the yatra. It was decided in the meeting that the threat perception to Amarnath yatra was the same like that of last year. Therefore, security arrangements for the yatra right from Lakhanpur to Shri Amarnath ji cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas would also be same. Army would man dominant positions at the Bhawan while BSF and CRPF along with police would be deployed all along the twin tracks of Pahalgam and Baltal besides two National Highways of Pathankote-Jammu (starting Lakhanpur, the gateway of Jammu and Kashmir) and Jammu-Srinagar. Security arrangements would be strengthened at forward base camps of Nunwan in Pahalgam and Baltal besides base camp of Bhagwati Nagar at Jammu, sources said. Sources said all security agencies gave their view point on ensuring a peaceful summer after which the 'summer strategy’’ was finalized. The views of security agencies on Amarnath yatra and infiltration were also discussed, they added. The meeting was attended by Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, Minister of State for Home, Nasir Aslam Wani, Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal, GOC-in-C Northern Command Lt Gen K T Parnaik, Director General Police, Kuldeep Khuda, Principal Secretary Home, B. R. Sharma, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B B Vyas, GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen Syed Atta Hasnain, GOC 14 Corps, Lt Gen R Dastane, GOC 16 Corps, J P Nehra, GOC 9 Corps, Lt Gen A K Choudhary, Director General, CRPF, Vijay Kumar, ADGP K Rajendra, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Hussain Samoon, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Pawan Kotwal, IG, BSF, Jammu, S. Chattopadhyaya, IG, CRPF, Jammu, Dinesh Kumar, IG, BSF, Kashmir, Baljit Singh, IG, CRPF, Kashmir (Operations), B N Ramesh, IG, CRPF (Administration), Ravi Prakash, IGP, Kashmir, S M Sahai, IGP, Jammu, Dilbagh Singh, IGP, CID, B Srinivas, Additional Secretary SB-North Zone Tilak Devasher, Joint Director IB, Kashmir, S K Sinha, Additional Commissioner SBK P K Patil and Special DGP CRPF, North Zone, A Uppal.