‘Turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir affects security’

August 6th, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor Wednesday said the turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir does not augur well for the security scenario and that additional forces will be sent to bring the situation under control. “The land transfer row has led to violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir. This creates turbulence in the border state. It would be better if it comes to end soon,” Kapoor told reporters on the sidelines of a function at which he delivered a presentation on the “Role of Indian Army in the changing security paradigm”.

“There is a possibility of sending some additional troops and we will be able to bring the situation under control,” Kapoor added.

Jammu and Kashmir has been on the boil since May 26 when the government transferred 40 hectares of forest land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) for creating “temporary and pre-fabricated” huts for Hindu pilgrims visiting the cave shrine in south Kashmir.

The order was revoked July 1 following violent protests in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. This upset the Hindu-majority Jammu region, which has been witnessing continuous shutdowns and violent stirs for the past 35 days. At least 14 people have been killed in the state on the issue.

“The row strikes at the very roots of the state. It needs to be curbed and combated by all of us. The elections are going to be serious parameter of the security measures in Jammu and Kashmir, where situation has otherwise shown tremendous improvement,” Kapoor maintained.

The Indian Army has been conducting flag marches in Jammu to control the situation.

“The protest is such that it has to be handled by the police. In this case, the situation was tending to go out of hand,” he said.

Claiming that terrorist violence has declined by 50 percent in Kashmir, Kapoor apprehended that insurgents could still create trouble in the run up to the October assembly elections in the state.

“The people of Jammu and Kashmir have become fed up with violence and are seeking the return of normalcy. There have been a 50 percent decline in violence as a result of an effective counter-terrorism grid in the hinterland,” Kapoor said during his presentation.

Terming the assembly elections as the “benchmark of Kashmir’s return to normalcy,” Kapoor said: “Elections have to take place in a peaceful environment and the possibility of insurgents creating trouble cannot be ruled out.”

According to the army chief, the surge in tourism and other indicators of normalcy were a manifestation of the aspirations of the common Kashmiri people for a peaceful and prosperous life.

“The situation in Kashmir is showing definite signs of improvement notwithstanding the land transfer issue. Last year, nearly 197,000 people had visited the Amarnath shrine in the first two weeks and the figure has swelled to 317,000 this year,” Kapoor added.

Kapoor also said that the army’s focus will be on conducting surgical and professional operations based on hard intelligence, ensuring minimum collateral damage.

Meanwhile, with another ceasefire violation being reported Wednesday at the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, Kapoor attributed the rise to the increase in the infiltration bids on the border.

“There have been ceasefire violations along LoC specially in the Pir Panjal area (in Jammu and Kashmir). The violations have been because the infiltration bids have increased. We have to take action against the infiltrators and sometime the firing against them has been misconstrued as shooting at the other side leading to violation,” Kapoor said.

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