State police to take over law and order duties in Kashmir: Chidambaram (Lead)

June 12th, 2009 - 2:43 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Srinagar, June 12 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Police would be given “primary responsibility” to maintain law and order with paramilitary forces like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), under fire over the alleged rape and murder of two Kashmiri women, acting only in an auxiliary capacity, union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said here Friday.
“It is our intention to redraw the lines of responsibility. The army holds the responsibility for conventional defence at the borders and for fighting infiltration.

“It is quite clear that the lines are to be redrawn. It will take some time, but the primary responsibility for maintaining law and order in the state would rest with the police,” Chidambaram, who arrived here Thursday and flies back to New Delhi later Friday, said at a press conference.

He was flanked by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Congress state unit president Saifuddin Soz.

The responsibility of maintaining law and order in towns and cities, the minister said, must rest completely with local police and paramilitary forces could come to their assistance when asked for.

Responding to questions about the possible repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), he said: “AFSPA is a subject matter which we had flagged two months back.

“The state chief minister flagged it with me. I think yes, I promised to look at the matter. I will have to address the matter with the prime minister and the defence minister. We will take into account every related aspect.”

Discussing the rape and murder of two women in Shopian in the valley that caused statewide unrest, the minister said he had been briefed about the incident and it was the “intention of the state government to hold a thorough enquiry both by the judicial probe and the investigating agency and punish the guilty”.

Accepting that protests were on the rise, he asserted that there was no intelligence report about any Taliban threat in the state and militancy related incidents had reduced.

According to Chidambaram, while peaceful agitation was the hallmark of a democracy, they should not not interfere with the lives of the people.

“People want better roads, more electricity, jobs, they want to send their children to school, and they want a better future.

“Agitations should not interrupt normal life here as they are doing this time almost everyday.”

An environment of security and safety was a pre-requisite for development as Jammu and Kashmir had peculiar problems to address, the minister said.

The process of dialogue with Kashmiri separatist leaders will have to start at an appropriate time, he maintained, and added that political stability had been assured in the state and the country after the assembly and parliamentary elections.

“I have assured the chief minister that the centre will aid the state in every possible manner,” he said.

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