Friday, April 1, 2011

Centre mulls steps to avoid repeat of ’10 summer in Valley

SRINAGAR: The Centre is taking several measures to ensure that the coming summer in Kashmir won't be bloody, but inputs warn of a repeat of street protests like recent years. 

Centre's concerns are reflected in the many initiatives and the repeated visits of Army chief Gen V K Singh to Kashmir in recent weeks. 

Sources said Army's Srinagar-based 15 Corps has been undertaking, and would initiate, many measures as part of efforts to ensure civil unrest is not repeated. The Army formation is undertaking programmes for direct and indirect youth contact, so that they remain engaged and do not get distracted. A senior officer said the entire effort is to place the "awaam" (people) ahead of "jawan" (soldier). Until now, one of the standard slogans for Army units in the Valley has been "jawan aur awaam", which will now be reversed. 

Gen Singh, who visited Srinagartwice in a month, has cautioned the leadership of security forces in the Valley to be on watch against street violence and possible mistakes that could be further exploited by protestors, a senior Army officer said. 

The Army chief went to Srinagar on February 15 and then again on March 21, to review the situation. He met with Army top brass and senior officials of other security agencies. "Gen Singh had a detailed interaction with the corps commander and other senior officers where he was briefed on the security scenario along the LoC and within the state," sources said. Intelligence agencies have warned of increase in infiltration from Pakistan in the coming months, after the snow melts at higher reaches of LoC. 

Gen Singh's repeated visits were prompted by intelligence reports that spoke of separatist groups in Kashmir planning to engineer street violence again this summer. He specially cautioned security forces against "excesses", which have in recent summers set off the cycle of violence. 

What has the Centre worried is also the fact that in recent days, political leaders, especially from PDP, and separatists have been invoking the images from West Asia and threatening to do similar civil protests in the Valley. 

Along with various initiatives for youth contact, New Delhi hopes the imminent submission of the final report of Kashmir interlocutors would have a calming effect on the Valley. The Kashmir interlocutors are expected to submit their final report in a week's time, sources said. 

The interlocutors have already recommended several measures as part of efforts to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue. They have also sought dialogue with Pakistan, besides engaging Kashmiri separatist leaders.

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