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Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Army chief Bipin Rawat to meet new J-K Governor in Srinagar today

This will be the first meeting between defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Army chief Bipin Rawat and Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2018 08:32 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nirmala Sitharaman,Bipin Rawat,Army Chief
Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman visits Chinar Corps to review the security situation in Kashmir Valley, in Srinagar in June 2018.(PTI File Photo)

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with Army chief General Bipin Rawat will be flying to Srinagar on Monday to call on newly appointed State Governor Satyapal Malik to exchange notes on the security situation in the state and the forthcoming Panchayat elections. This will be the first meeting between the defence minister, Army chief and the Jammu and Kashmir Governor.

South Block officials said that the visit of Sitharaman and Rawat comes at a time when indigenous militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, has been pushed to the forefront of action by handlers across the Line of Control (LoC) to orchestrate unrest in the Valley by targeting innocent families of Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) personnel. It has been seen in the past two decades that whenever key American leadership is visiting India or the sub-continent, violence is orchestrated in the Valley in the name of the indigenous freedom struggle. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting India on September 5 after paying a five-hour trip to Islamabad. Secretary Pompeo, along with defense secretary James Mattis, will be involved in a two plus two dialogue with their Indian counterparts on September 6.

According to senior army commanders, Hizbul leader Riyaz Naikoo has been involved in the recruitment of scores of local youth from south Kashmir and has now turned the focus of recruitment to Handwara and Kupwara in north Kashmir. Naikoo, who is said to be based in Shopian now, is recruiting local youth for militancy as cross-border infiltration of large groups has come down due to high attrition arising from army deployment on the LoC.

While there is no agenda for the Srinagar meeting, the visitors are expected to discuss forthcoming local body elections. The Centre is very keen to hold the Panchayat elections as the villages will be financially empowered through elected sarpanches. In the long run, this will also create a political alternative in the state traditionally ruled by the Abdullah and Mufti families. State chief secretary BVR Subramanyam will also be present in the meeting at the Governor’s house.

After the BJP walked out of the coalition government with PDP, the Centre wants the Governor to ensure fair play in the strife torn state, especially when it comes to government jobs. “With a political Governor at the helm, we want merit-based system of selection and good governance to prevail. The message to the public should be that you need not be close to either Hurriyat or Jamait-e-Islami to get a job. The solution to this episodic unrest lies in infrastructure development and keeping the militant numbers below the threshold in the Valley,” said an Army Commander.

First Published: Sep 02, 2018 08:06 IST