No demilitarisation of Kashmir: Antony


New Delhi : Ruling out the demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister A. K. Antony Monday lamented there was "no forward movement" on reducing troop levels on the Siachen glacier battlefield in the state.

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"The situation in the state is being assessed. Whatever action we take will be on the recommendation of the army and the security forces. At the moment, there is no question of demilitarisation," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of a conference of top commanders of the armed forces here.

At the same time, he said that while violence in the state had not increased, there was some "worry" in April when infiltration from across the Line of Control (LoC) had risen.

"The violence is not increasing. The only worry was in April when the level of infiltration was up compared to (the same period) last year," Antony added.

On Siachen, Antony said: "There are no latest developments."

"Pakistan must first agree to verify the AGPL (actual ground position line). Without this, there can be no forward movement," the minister said.

Islamabad has all along maintained that it would authenticate the AGPL as it existed in 1984, when Indian troops moved in to foil Pakistani designs in the area. India is insisting on verifying the AGPL as it exists.

Pakistani officials have now been quoted as saying Islamabad would agree to verify the present troop positions only if India promised not to legally enforce the boundary.

Siachen is one of the sticking points in resolving the vexed Kashmir issue that has dogged the South Asian neighbours for nearly six decades.

Indian and Pakistani troops have been locked in a bitter standoff since 1984 on the Siachen glacier, where the heights rise to 22,000 feet and the temperatures plunge to minus 50 degree Celsius in winter. The guns have been silent since a truce was declared in 2003.

During his visit to Siachen last month, his first after becoming defence minister eight months ago, Antony was asked whether Pakistan could be trusted about its stance on the glacier.

He replied: "I don't want to elaborate. Our policy is not to spoil the present atmosphere (of peace talks). But history is also on our minds."

The reference was to the 1999 Kargil conflict in which Pakistani troops invaded the area even as then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif were engaged in peace parleys.