Be on ‘high alert’ in Kashmir: Home Minister (Lead)

March 18th, 2009 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Jammu, March 18 (IANS) Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday said security scenario had improved in Jammu and Kashmir, but cautioned the state government to be on “very high alert” in view of “turmoil in Pakistan”.
Chidambaram chaired a high-level meeting here to review the security in the state ahead of the five-phase Lok Sabha polls that begin April 16 and end May 13.

Addressing news conference after the marathon meeting with civil and security officials, the home minister said: “Things have indeed improved in Jammu and Kashmir and level of violence has indeed come down.”

He, however, cautioned the security forces to remain on “very high alert as between now and May 16 (the day of vote counting), we can expect anything happening”.

He underlined the need to keep extra vigil in view of disturbances in Pakistan.

“In fact, turmoil in Pakistan is adding to our concerns and therefore I have advised the Unified Command that they remain very high alert.”

The Unified Command is the highest security body with state chief minister as its chairman coordinating operations of different security wings.

“There is no specific threat but prudence requires to keep high alert especially when your neighbour across the border is going through difficult period,” Chidambaram said.

The home minister had a comprehensive review of the security situation in the state.

“I am happy to note that the Unified Command has done remarkable work in providing leadership and there is excellent coordination between army, para-military and the state police.”

Commenting on demand of revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, Chidambaram said that it was not something new that had come up.

“The act has been reviewed from time to time. It will again be reviewed at an appropriate time and that will be after the Lok Sabha polls.”

Opposition Peoples Democratic Party and separatist groups in the state have been demanding the revocation of the AFSPA, which gives powers to armed forces to carry out operations in disturbed areas. It was promulgated in Jammu and Kashmir in July 1990.

The home minister later flew back to Delhi.

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