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Rajnath Singh slams Pakistan for trying to stoke unrest in Kashmir

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-06-2017 Shaswati Das

New Delhi: Taking a tough stand over the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on Saturday, slammed Pakistan for trying to stoke unrest in the valley.

While Singh stated that the situation in Kashmir had improved dramatically under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government as opposed to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, he was confident of eliminating militancy from the valley.

“A country that has not been able to manage its own internal affairs such as Balochistan, cannot do anything to upset another country’s affairs. What they (Pakistan) are doing by fuelling this kind of unrest is great disservice to the youth of Kashmir,” Rajnath Singh said.

While dialogues between both India and Pakistan have hit a dead end, Singh asserted that the NDA government – before assuming power in 2014 – had decided to “maintain extremely cordial relations with the neighbouring countries.” However, Singh added that maintaining the cordiality was a two-way street and the onus of strengthening ties did not lie with India alone.

According to data released by the home ministry, the last three years from 2014-17 have seen a higher neutralization rate of militants in Kashmir, with 368 militants being killed by security forces as opposed to 239 between 2011-13 under the UPA government.

At the same time, home ministry statistics reveal that following the surgical strike in September 2016, cross border infiltration saw a sharp drop by 45%.

However, with civilian unrest on the rise in Kashmir amid growing episodes of stone-pelting, the home ministry – in order to quell the strife – has also announced a series of growth measures. With 63 major development projects underway as part of the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP 2015), with an estimated size of Rs80,068 crore, Rs61,112 crore has been sanctioned, while the remaining 25% of the funds – Rs19,961 crore has been released by the ministry.

“Our dedication and seriousness towards Kashmir is reflected by the fact that every time Kashmir has been in trouble, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been the first to visit the area. We want the youth of Kashmir to set aside stones and use their skill and talent towards a brighter future and we will give them that,” Rajnath Singh added.

While the home ministry has also been desperately trying to contain Naxalism in India, primarily Chhattisgarh – which saw two of the biggest Naxal attacks on security forces this year, killing 43 men of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in March and April – it continued to assert that it was successfully combating Left Wing Extremism (LWE).

With statistical backing, Rajnath Singh added that while there had been a 42% drop in deaths due to Naxalism from the periods of 2011-14 to 2014-17, there had been a 65 rise in the elimination of Naxal cadres and a 185% rise in the surrender of Naxals.

“We have formed the unique Bastariya Battalion by the CRPF as a unique initiative to enhance local representation in security forces and to provide employment to local youth in LWE affected Bastar region of Chhattisgarh,” Singh added.

In December, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had given its go ahead for a Rs11,000 crore road project across all 35 LWE affected districts. On Saturday, the home ministry stated that 1391-kms of roads had been constructed under the Road Requirement Plan Phase-I (RRP) in the most difficult areas. At the same time, 5,412 kms of roads had been approved under RRP-II.

“Communication is one of the key areas that we are focusing in order to control Naxalism in areas such as Chhattisgarh. For that very purpose we have set up 2,187 mobile towers and 2,882 towers are being set-up. The mobile tower project was started in 2014 to improve coverage in LWE areas,” Singh stated.

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