Governor opposes Kashmir demilitarisation


Srinagar : The governor of Jammu and Kashmir has ruled out any demilitarisation in the state even though he agreed the security situation had improved remarkably.

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“Demilitarisation means total withdrawal of the army from a place and in states like Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan where borders with the neighbouring country exist, there can be no demilitarisation even when the situation returns to complete normalcy,” lieutenant general (retired) S.K. Sinha said at a seminar organized here Wednesday jointly by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi and the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

The governor also said withdrawal of security forces from certain areas of the state can reverse the gains achieved during the last 18 years, for which the security forces had offered heavy sacrifices.

“In conflicts like this, there are no inviolable borders and the militants can re-enter areas those have been painstakingly sanitized by our security forces,” he said.

Referring to the fast improving situation here, which was now showing its positive effects on the local economy, he said, “This year so far we have had 70,000 tourist arrivals which is less than the 100,000 figure in the corresponding period last year, but the encouraging thing is that more and more foreigners are now coming to Kashmir”.

In a nostalgic reference to Kashmir where he also served during his military tenure in 1947 fighting the Pakistan-backed tribal raiders, Sinha said, “Eight hundred sorties of aircraft were organized in 1947 to bring in the Indian Army here to fight the tribal invasion.

“At a time when the country had just achieved its independence, it was a Herculean task to retrieve Kashmir from the clutches of the tribal invaders who went on looting and vandalizing the Valley,” he said.

Interestingly, the veteran soldier also said the timing of the tribal invasion had ensured its own defeat.

“The tribals were pushed into Kashmir on Oct 21, 1947. That was a historic mistake on the part of general Akbar Khan of Pakistan who commanded the tribal invasion. Had he delayed it by just another ten days, the falling snows would have made our landings impossible. But, that was destiny because Kashmir was to be the jewel in the country’s crown,” Sinha disclosed.

Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, Salman Haider and Lalit Mansingh, two former foreign secretaries, and a galaxy of local intellectuals and media persons attended the inaugural function of the two-day peace seminar, held at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre on the banks of the Dal Lake.