Saturday, 15 January 2011

Separatist, Kashmir mainstream hail troops reduction in one voice

Separatist, Kashmir mainstream hail troops reduction in one voice
J&K Monitor - The Community
Written by Bashir Assad
Friday, 14 January 2011 00:00
SRINAGAR: Both mainstream and separatist political parties hailed the decision of reduction of troops in Kashmir by the Central government which was announced by Union Home Secretary GK Pillai in New-Delhi on Friday.
Chairman Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umer Farooq hailed the decision adding that the gradual reduction in troops size will certainly help in easing the ground situation.

During his Friday sermon at historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, Mirwaiz said, “ we welcome the decision provided government of India translates it practically. The gradual reduction of security forces will help in reducing the trust deficit”. Mirwaiz averred that the resumption of dialogue at foreign Secretaries level between India and Pakistan was also a welcome step. What is required is the sincerity of purpose, Mirwaiz added.

Pertinently Home Secretary GK Pillai said in New Delhi on Friday that Jammu and Kashmir would see a 25% reduction in security forces and more bunkers would be lifted from Srinagar. “There will be a 25% reduction of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, especially from populated areas,” Pillai said at a symposium on the “ Way forward in Kashmir” organized by the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New-Delhi. He said the government wished ‘to do more’ in terms of troop reduction – a popular demand of various mainstream and separatist political parties.

‘But there is a fear of backlash (from militants). But there will be a 25 percent reduction of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, especially from populated areas, in the next 12 months,’ he said. He said the removal of security forces from populated areas was part of the eight-point agenda the government had approved last year as part of building confidence of Kashmiris.

JKLF chief Yasin Malik in his reaction to the Home Secretary’s assertion said that they will monitor the implementation of the decision adding that reducing presence of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir by 25 per cent in next twelve months, though, a lengthy process, yet it was a welcome decision if implemented in letter and spirit. “There was collective transition of Kashmiri people from violence to non-violent means that started in 2008, I visited every nook and corner of the valley convincing people towards a non-violent peaceful movement. People endorsed the importance of a non-violent movement and, therefore, the heavy presence of security forces along length and breadth of the state was irrational and illogical. However, if the decision to demilitarize Jammu and Kashmir gradually is implemented, it will certainly improve human rights situation in the state which until now was appalling” Malik said. On the decision of easing travel restrictions for Pakistani Kashmiris by the government of India, Yasin Malik said that the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was one entity and the people from both sides should be free to visit either side of LoC.

GK Pillai said earlier in the day that the government will ‘unilaterally’ ease travel restrictions and give multiple-entry permits valid for six months to Pakistani Kashmiris who want to visit their families in Jammu and Kashmir, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said Friday.

Pillai said Pakistan did not agree to the Indian government’s idea to ease travel curbs on families divided across the Line of Control – the de facto border that divides Jammu and Kashmir between the two neighbours.

‘We will do it unilaterally now. People from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (as Pakistani Kashmir is officially referred to by India) can have multiple entry one permit (to travel to Jammu and Kashmir) so that they don’t have to re-apply whenever they want to visit their divided families again,’ Pillai said, adding the permit would be valid for six months. ‘After six months, you can apply for another permit and the government won’t insist on security clearance for the second time.’ This, he said, was being done as part of confidence building measures to win the trust of people in Jammu and Kashmir – the valley last year saw a bloody summer agitation in which 112 civilians were killed in clashes with security forces.

Meanwhile valley based mainstream political parties hailed the decision hoping that the decision of reducing security forces will improve the ground situation in the state. Pradesh Congress President Professor Saifudin Soz, however, refused to comment on the issue saying that he will study the statement and then react.

Senior National Conference leader and Member Parliament Dr. Mehboob Beg said this is a welcome step but more needs to be done to address the main political issue. “ this is a step towards addressing the offshoots of the main disease, OK, but take many steps in sequence to reduce the trust deficit and come to the main issue in the process” Dr. Beg said while talking to this correspondent from Delhi on phone.

Chairman Democratic Nationalist Party and Minister for Agriculture Ghulam Hasan Mir was unique in response. Mir said the presence of security forces is directly related to the situation in the state. “It indicates there is improvement in situation, if situation deteriorates again the presence of security forces will be thickened again. I believe it is a pure law and order issue, you need not to politicize it” he added. In a veiled attack on Peoples Democratic Party Mir said that this is not an area to be politicized as some parties try to build their edifices on the issue.

Peoples Democratic Front Chairman and former Minister Hakim Muhammad Yasin said that reducing 25 percent security forces in 12 months will not show the desired results. “ What is important is that people should feel change and 12 months period is a little bit exhaustive that cannot have much impact on ground” said Yasin. The former minister however, added that it was a welcome step but the time frame should be reduced at least by 50 percent. Hakim also envisaged the urgency of addressing that main political issue.

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