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No proposal to demilitarise J

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, May 15 (UNI) The Government today ruled out any demilitarisation or reduction of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir until terrorist activities ceased and there was peace and tranquility in the border state.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil assured Parliament that ''until killings have come down drastically and terrorism comes to an end, the decision (of demilitarisation) would not be taken, as it would not be in the interest of the country to do so''.

Replying to discussions in both House on the killings in Doda district of J&k earlier this month, the Minister said redeployment of forces could, of course, be considered depending upon the suggestions from experts. However, he sought to make it clear that redeployment of forces did not mean withdrawal.

Reiterating the statement made earlier by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, he said there was no proposal before the Government to demilitarise the State.

Strongly defending the process of dialogue initiated by the Centre with ''responsible individuals'' and leaders of the parties in the state, he said this had helped the Government ascertain their views and to convey the Government's views to them. ''This could prepare a ground for some understanding to be arrived at between the two and an agreement could be reached at a later date.'' Pointing out that the Government has been listening to the Kashmiri leaders' points of view ''with due respect to them'', Mr Patil categorically said the Government would continue talking to them.

''There should be no opposition to the dialogue,'' he said.

Earlier, initiating the discussionin the Rajya Sabha, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said that Doda is a border region and if the State Government is not able to deal with the problem, the Centre is also bound to intervene in this serious situation.

He sought to know what the intelligence agencies were doing.

''Were they not informing the government about the activities of terrorists in the state or is the Government unaware of it,'' Dr Joshi said, warning that if terrorist activities continued at this pace, ''one day Doda will be fully emptied of people and Jammu will also go the same way.'' MORE UNI DG VD HT2107

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