Peace priority in Kashmir but will act tough against militants: Jaitley

Visits forward areas; says Indian troops ready to give befitting reply to ‘enemy’

BK Correspondent/Srinagar
May 20, 2017 TOP STORIES 325 Views
Peace priority in Kashmir but will act tough against militants: Jaitley

Without outrightly rejecting the possibility of holding talks with separatists, including Hurriyat Conference (HC), Defence Minister Arun Jaitley today said first priority at the moment was to restore normalcy in the Kashmir valley.
Talking to journalists at the end of two-day Good and Services Tax (GST) 14th Council meeting here this afternoon Jaitley said the current situation in the Kashmir valley was as a result when you took to arms and violence to kill people, security forces and damage property.
Defence minister in reply to a question said people in every state have sentiments in the entire country but that does not once should go for violence.
When he was reminded that during the NDA government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee Government of India (GoI) hold talks with the separatists, Mr Jaitley, who was also a cabinet minister then, said let the situation become normal that is the top priority at the moment adding any decision on this will be announced by the central government.
You cannot address the aspiration when there is a war against the country, state and local people who are losing their lives, Mr Jaitley said and warned that those taking to violence will be certainly made accountable for this.
He said the present situation of burning schools, kill people and destroy property was being funded by across the border. Average resident of Kashmir was being targeted, he said.
About the alleged admission by some separatist leaders during a sting operation by a television channel recently that they are receiving money from across the border to instigate people for violence, the Defence Minsiter said “I am sure the concern agency will take whatever action has to be taken in this matter”.
Jaitley said: “we have to deal with those who kill people.”
When asked if GoI will return two power projects to state as per agreement between PDP and BJP when the coalition government was formed in the state, Jaitley said the state ministers must be taking these issues.
Meanwhile, assuring troops that entire country was behind them, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley visited the forward areas on the Line of Control (LoC) in the north Kashmir today.
A Defence Ministry spokesman said Mr Jaitley today visited the forward areas in Rampur Sector of North Kashmir. Accompanied by GOC of Baramulla based division, Maj Gen RP Kalita, the Defence Minister interacted with the troops and praised their grit, determination and selfless service to the nation.
Expressing happiness to be amid the soldiers, Jaitley said the entire country recognised the challenging circumstances that they were operating in and stood behind them in all their endeavours.
He reiterated the need to maintain strict vigil at all times to thwart any nefarious designs of forces inimical to national interests.
Defence sources said Jaitley was given a detailed brief about the overall security situation on LoC as large number of trained militants is waiting across the border in launch pads to sneak into this side.
However, the Defence Minister was informed about the functioning of anti infiltration grid to foil any attempt of infiltration from across LoC, where a number of training camps are still operating. This was the first visit of Jaitley after assuming the charge of the Defence Minister following appointment of Manohar Parrikar as Goa Chief Minister.
Visit by Jaitley assumes significance as troops has already warned that it has reserved the right to respond to mutilation of bodies of two soldiers by Pakistani troops in Poonch district recently.
The Defence Minister was also given a detailed brief about the overall security situation in the Valley, where militant activities and student unrest has witnessed surge during the past few months.

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