`Significant` chunk of forces to be withdrawn from J&K

Last Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 00:31

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday announced
withdrawal of a "significant" number of battalions of central
forces from Jammu and Kashmir in a significant confidence-
building measure following the initiative for holding "quiet"
dialogue with separatist groups.

Home Minister P Chidambaram told the Rajya Sabha that
the decision had been taken in view of improvement of law and
order situation in the state.

He also sought to reach out to separatist outfits of
North East like ULFA and Naxal groups, saying the government
was ready to hold dialogue if they abjured violence.

Replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on internal
security, he said the government would maintain zero tolerance
towards terrorism, whether it is in the shape of `jihadi`
violence of Hindu extremist violence.

The mention of ‘Hindu’ drew barbs from the Opposition that stalled proceedings for a few minutes.

He said India remains vulnerable to terrorism as he
noted that outfits like Lashkar-e Taiba have forged alliances
with Al-Qaida and Pakistan has not changed its attitude.

On situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Chidambaram said
violence in the state has been the lowest this year and the
Centre is willing to take "what appears to be a risky step of
withdrawing a significant number of battalions of security
forces" and hand over law and order to the state police.

He said the process has already been initiated but
refused to quantify the personnel being withdrawn.

The announcement would be a major confidence-building
measure offered by the government which has initiated "quiet"
dialogue with separatist groups.

Earlier in the day, Chidambaram told the Upper House of
Parliament that Kashmiri groups have responded positively to
the Centre`s initiative of "quiet talks" and hoped a solution
will emerge.

He said the government would not shy away from talking
to any organisation, some of which are demanding self-rule.

Chidambaram noted that Jammu and Kashmir had a number of
groups with a number of demands. And even though some groups
had demanded the right of self-determination or self-rule, "I
do not think we should shy away from talking to any group."

Referring to North East, the Home Minister said ULFA is
likely to make a political statement in the next few days and
if that contains willingness to talk, the government is ready
for a dialogue provided the outfit abjures violence and gives
up sovereignty demand.

The statement assumes significance as ULFA chief
Arabinda Rajkhowa has been reportedly detained in Bangladesh
and is expected to be handed over to India soon.

Chidambaram said "all but three states in the North
East are entirely peaceful.. Our problems are in Assam and
Manipur. Manipur is a cause for worry. I intend to pay greater
attention to it."

In Assam, he said an interlocutor is talking to four
groups. The leadership of Dima Halam Daoga (DHD) has been
virtually neutralised and NDFB is coming forward for talks, he
added.

In Nagaland, there is some uneasy truce, both factions
of NSCN are being pursued to come to the negotiation table and
killings have stopped.

-PTI inputs



First Published: Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 00:31

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