Infiltration on rise as Kashmir readies for elections

May 13th, 2008 - 8:45 pm ICT by admin  

Hussainiwala (Punjab), May 13 (IANS) Infiltration from across the border is on the rise in Jammu and Kashmir with the valley gearing up for the assembly elections this year, but attempts of “enemies” to disrupt the peace process will be thwarted, India’s Defence Minister A.K. Antony Tuesday said here. “Till April by and large this year, infiltration has been under control. Now again serious attempts have started,” Antony told reporters here after visiting a forward base along the international border.

The insurgency in the valley has been on decline this year because of heavy snow, weather and difficult terrain.

“Now the snow melting has started, so there is always a tendency to attempt a lot of infiltration. The coming summer is also more important because of Kashmir elections,” Antony said.

During the past year, a lot of improvement was observed and infiltrations in the valley have come down.

“Since last year, the Kashmir situation has been improving steadily. Even tourists are increasing and except for stray incidents, violence is under control as Kashmir is entering the election phase,” Antony said.

However, one militant who attacked the Samba garrison, 45 km from Jammu, was killed in a gunfight with the troops Monday. The militant was believed to be part of the group that had managed to sneak into India last Thursday and killed six people, including two soldiers and a photojournalist, in a shootout here Sunday.

Antony laid a wreath at the memorial to freedom fighters - Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru - here. He also met the troops at the base.

Dismissing as “old phenomenon” attempt by terrorists to infiltrate along the International Border in Samba sector in Kashmir, Antony said: “This is not a new development. In the past also on a few occasions infiltration and infiltration attempts took place. Nowadays infiltrators are trying to infiltrate through new areas of the borders of the country.”

However, Antony assured the people that elections in Kashmir would be “free, fair and peaceful” as armed forces and Border Security Force (BSF) will defeat all the attempts of the “enemies to disrupt the peace process.”

“Political parties and other groups are coming to reality that to achieve gains they have to be in the mainstream,” Antony said.

Army sources said terrorist activities of the Hijb-ul-Mujahideen has decreased and it has also opened its political office in the valley.

However, at present there was no proposal to send more troops to the valley.

Even though Antony did not name Pakistan, other officials have blamed the Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of fomenting terrorism in Kashmir by pushing trained fighters across the ceasefire line.

India and Pakistan are resuming their peace talks in Islamabad later this month and the issue of what India calls “cross-border terrorism” would figure high on the agenda of the discussions.

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