Panaji, Dec 7: Facing flak for his presence in Goa while militants made a string of lethal strikes in Jammu and Kashmir, including a suicide attack, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Sunday said he was "monitoring the situation" in the state on an hourly basis.
Parrikar, who is in Goa for the past three days, was speaking to reporters near Panaji. "I am monitoring the situation on an hourly basis," he said when asked about the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Echoing the sentiments expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday, Parrikar said: "It is a desperate attempt to derail the democratic process."
Over the past few days, militants from terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have upped the ante and executed repeated attacks, including a fidayeen (suicide) attack on an army camp in Baramulla district which killed 19 persons, including 11 security personnel and two civilians. Two more militants were killed in two other incidents elsewhere.
The attacks coincide with the ongoing five-phase elections to the state assembly elections, which have recorded a large voter turnout.
The Indian Army has alleged the hand of Pakistan behind the latest round of attacks by militant groups, as well as the numerous attempts to send militants across the Line of Control.
Parrikar's continued presence in Goa, especially in the light of increased violence in Jammu and Kashmir, has been criticised on the social media as well as by the opposition here.
Friday after senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai posted a photograph on Twitter, which showed the defence minister releasing his new book "2014: The Election that Changed India", several Twitter users criticised Parrikar, a former Goa chief minister, for not being serious about his brief as the defence minister.
Parrikar Saturday met with officials and politicians to take stock of a new bridge, which was sanctioned when he was chief minister, while Sunday he reviewed the logistics for the exposition of St. Francis Xavier, a decennial feast held in honour of the Spanish saint.
The opposition here too criticised the defence minister for spending too little time in South Block, headquarters of the defence ministry, and spending too much time in Goa.
"Parrikar should be out there defending our soldiers and the country, instead of releasing books in Goa," Congress organising secretary Durgadas Kamat said.