Minister defends army over Omar remark | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Minister defends army over Omar remark

Even as the army apologised to J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah for critical remarks over removal of bunkers, minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju defended the force saying it had the right to voice its opinion.

delhi Updated: Dec 03, 2010 00:05 IST

Even as the army apologised to J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah for critical remarks over removal of bunkers, minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju 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. “ The army has the right to voice its opinion once in a while and it will also be taken note of,” Raju said on Thursday.

The army’s northern command beat a retreat, apologising to Abdullah for a statement that Monday’s Qamarwari shootout in Srinagar was a result of demilitarisation.

Army public relations officer Lt Col Pradeep Kochar said, “Northern command chief Lt Gen BS Jaswal apologised to Omar Abdullah and termed the statement a mistake by one junior officer.”

On November 29, three motorcyclists were killed in a shootout at Qamarwari Chowk after they gunned down a policeman who had signalled them to stop.

Police chief SM Sahai had said the incident was not a suicide attack. It was an attempt by militants to enter the city. Army officials in general had never supported Abdullah’s decision to remove bunkers and reduce the army’s presence.

However, the army’s Tuesday statement said Abdullah had “given in” to the clamour of demilitarisation and it had “delighted” the separatists.

The statement also said the militants were trying to regroup and show their presence as a result of thinning the presence of the army from Srinagar.

Abdullah made it clear in a meeting in Anantnag that he would persist with the demand of reducing the footprints of the army and repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Lt Gen Jaswal, however, said: “The views expressed were personal predilections of a junior officer, which were inadvertently issued as a press release.”