Centre vs Omar on J&K bunker removal?

Even as the Army apologised to Omar Abdullah for critical remarks over removal of bunkers, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju today defended the force saying it had the right to voice its opinion.

Last Updated: Dec 02, 2010, 22:35 PM IST

New Delhi: Even as the Army apologised to
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for critical
remarks over removal of bunkers, Minister of State for Defence
M M Pallam Raju today defended the force saying it had the
right to voice its opinion.

Raju said as a force on the ground dealing with the
situation first-hand, the Army was discussing the concerns
regarding the visibility of armed forces in the region, which
should be addressed in a "practical and pragmatic" manner.

"I think as a force on the ground which has to deal
first-hand with the situation, the Army has the right to voice
its opinion once in a while and it will also be taken note
of," Raju said when asked if the Army was right in airing its
objection.

Northern Command spokesman, while commenting on removal
of bunkers from certain areas of Srinagar, had said two days
back that Abdullah had been "compelled to give in" and linked
it to the encounter in Qamarwari in Srinagar.

The Command had later issued a revised press release but
the damage had been done with Abdullah complaining to Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh.

Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal has since
apologised to Abdullah for it.

Asked about Abdullah`s letter to the Prime Minister
about Army`s "interference" in the state, Raju said, "I think
the Army has played a stabilising role there and whatever
concerns they have about visibility of the armed forces in the
region is being spoken about and discussed."

He expressed confidence that "this will be addressed in
a very practical and pragmatic manner."

-PTI