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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

With spotlight on LoC, Jaitley visits frontier posts in Kashmir

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, June 16, 2014
First Published: 13:13 IST(16/6/2014) | Last Updated: 13:22 IST(16/6/2014)

Expressing optimism over security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir, the focus of defence minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday remained on situation along the Line of Control (LoC) as he visited forward posts in north Kashmir.

“In areas where militants or infiltrators try to cross over, our soldiers have maintained domination. We have enough strength to stop these infiltrators,” said Jaitley on the second day of his maiden visit to the state as a defence minister.

Accompanied by the army top brass, the defence minister on Sunday morning visited the army posts in the Haji Pir area on the LoC in Baramulla district, more than 100 km away from the capital Srinagar.

“I talked to the jawans (at the LoC) on how they secure the borders... There are ceasefire violations from the other side but our army is capable of responding to them and safeguarding our soil,” he added.

The defence minister’s visit to the frontier posts has come two days after Pakistan army violated mutually agreed ceasefire in Jammu’s Poonch district.

Pertinently, the Haji Pir sector, recaptured by India in 1965 war, connects Poonch with Baramulla district.

“For situation to normalise, it’s extremely important that violations taking place on the LoC must stop. That, in itself, is a confidence building measure before any country can proceed,” he said.

The LoC has witnessed four major ceasefire violations since the BJP came to the power at the Centre.

On further strengthening the security grid, Jaitley said, “A list was made of the issued flagged by the security agencies and the state government, where the Centre has to take a decision.”

Replying to a question on a fresh video of the Al-Qaeda calling upon Kashmiris to wage jehad and claiming a caravan of militants heading towards the Valley, the defence minister said, “There are forces inimical to India. We factor all this in when we discuss the situation. But I am reasonably confident that the strength of India as a state not to allow such elements to foment trouble in India is considerable.”

However, he was quick to add, “Even when I am optimistic, there is an element of caution in my optimism because people inimical to India will try to foment trouble.”

Though Jaitley patted Omar Abdullah’s government for improved security situation, he remained non-committal on the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a demand made by the chief minister repeatedly in the past.

“As far as today’s situation is concerned, armed forces and local security agencies have been handling situation. Over the period of time, we have to watch how the situation turns. Today, I am not in a position to comment,” said Jaitley in response to a question on the AFSPA.

Making an oblique reference to Omar’s tweet where he questioned the timing of his visit, Jaitley said, “There is no political reason for my visit here. The only objective was to visit the LoC and to review the preparedness of our security.”

The defence minister, who also chaired a security review meeting where top brass of the security agencies briefed about several security aspects, expressed satisfaction on overall scenario.

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