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It is an 'alarming' controversy between Omar and army

“It is an alarming situation,” General told reporters at his maiden news conference after succeeding Lt Gen Fida Husnain.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 20, 2012, 11.06 PM IST
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SRINAGAR: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is angry with his security adviser, Lt Gen Om Prakash, the commander of the Srinagar based 15-corps. At a time when managing shelter for the fresh tourist arrivals has become a challenge, the General is talking about “alarming situation” amidst his resolve not to offer al-Qaida a foothold in Kashmir!

“It is an alarming situation,” General told reporters at his maiden news conference after succeeding Lt Gen Fida Husnain. “The intelligence reports suggest that they were two Fidayeen who carried out the attack on the Army in Pampore. Intelligence agencies, as recently as a week ago, have reported that militants are planning to carry out Fidayeen attacks and snatch the weapon of security forces.”

General Prakash was briefing reporters about the recent incident in highway township of Pampore where a small group of militants attacked two soldiers, took away their arms. While one was killed another survived injured. The attack, he said, was a “serious incident”. General believed that though militancy ha remained higher in north because of it proximity to LoC, it is, right now, suggesting to be more in south Kashmir because a series of attacks took place in this belt.

Though the General said there are barely 300 active militants across Kashmir as another 600 are waiting at launching pads to crossover, it was his “alarming” statement that pinched the state government. Around 1.5 million leisure and pilgrim tourists have already visited Kashmir and the arrivals is a round the clock phenomenon. Per day load at Srinagar airport has gone to 29 flights, the highest ever. Interestingly most of the tourist spots are in south Kashmir where army sees a high militant concentration.

“There is no alarming situation (in Kashmir),” Omar told reporters on Thursday. “The fact is that with every passing year militancy is declining. The use of words like ‘alarming’ results only in creating panic among the people.” Omar said General Prakash had met him a day ahead but did not reveal anything “alarming”. As of now the situation is not alarming, Omar asserted. “If at all there is some problem it points to a failure in the security grid which needs to be discussed,” he said.

Publicly, the relationship between Omar and his security advisers has not been very good, especially after he announced withdrawal of AFSPA from select districts and army ruled it out. It became such a major issue that the state government gradually squeezed the controversy so that it does not trigger impacts elsewhere. The new talk on the subject is that capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar are under “active consideration” for withdrawal of AFSPA.

The AFSPA does not only symbolize the unpredictability of action and reaction in a highly fragile atmosphere, it is gradually devouring the possible benefits from the state government which it could have had if cases of human rights would be tried in civilian courts. Within days after the apex court upheld the army’s right to try the cases of its soldiers involved in serious human rights violations through court martial, the Pathribal case has already been transferred.

Five civilians were kidnapped, killed and burned in a fake encounter and dubbed foreigners responsible for March 2000 Sikh massacre. In immediate follow up, another court asked army if it intends to try its officers involved in Machil fake encounters in court martial. Some officers, in this case, had taken three youth to LoC and killed them only to claim promotions and rewards for killing “militants”. The army is expected to take this case home too.

The army has not decided where the court martial proceedings in the Pathribal fake encounter would take place. “It has to be decided by Army’s Judge Advocate General (JAG),” General Prakash said. “Army carries out trial on fast track basis in comparison to civil courts. Our punishments are always harsh. Those who are found involved would be given exemplary punishment.”

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