HM to assess post-ceasefire situation before deciding on extension

Yatra, PMDP, border scenario to be reviewed

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, May 30: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is visiting Jammu and Kashmir next week for high-level review of situation post-conditional ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir and upcoming Shri Amarnath Ji yatra arrangements, which is scheduled to commence from June 28 besides situation along the International Border and facilities required to be given to the border dwellers.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the top brass of Union Ministry of Home Affairs and State Government were working out convenient dates for the visit of Rajnath Singh, which could last two days and would cover Jammu and Kashmir regions. Rajnath had last visited all three regions of Jammu and Kashmir on four-day visit from September 8-11.
“The Home Minister has decided to himself take a review of security situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of conditional ceasefire announced by him on May 16 during the holy month of Ramzan amidst indications from some quarters that the ceasefire can be extended if the level of violence goes down,” sources said, adding extension or no extension in ceasefire beyond Eid festival could depend on review of security situation by Rajnath with top brass of the J&K Government, heads of paramilitary forces, Intelligence agencies, operating in Jammu and Kashmir, and local police.
Sources said Rajnath would also take a view of the gains achieved by Centre’s Special Interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Union Home Minister’s visit assumed significance as it comes close on the heels of India and Pakistan agreeing to adhere to 2003 ceasefire agreement on Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) and separatists expressing their willingness to hold talks with the Centre with certain clarifications. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has repeatedly been batting for Indo-Pak dialogue but Rajnath and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had recently stated that talks can be held with Pakistan only if it shuns terror and stop pushing militants into J&K.
During his visit in Jammu, Rajnath was likely to inaugurate two pilot projects of smart fencing along the International Border in Jammu, have a tour of the International Border and review facilities for the border dwellers including construction of bunkers, shelter homes, which could be re-designated as `Border Bhawans’ and other steps being taken for their welfare in the event of mortar shelling and firing.
The borders have been peaceful for about a week now after Pakistani Rangers suffered heavy losses, both in terms of casualties and infrastructural losses, in retaliatory shelling and firing by the BSF. India had suffered 12 fatal casualties including two BSF jawans and 10 civilians apart from over 50 injuries.
Sources said peaceful Amarnath Yatra-2018 has been on agenda of the Union Home Ministry as this year duration of the holy pilgrimage in South Kashmir Himalayas was 60 days from June 28 to August 26 as against 48 days of last year. During Amarnath Ji Yatra-2017, militants had targeted a yatra bus killing eight pilgrims and injuring many others.
“Rajnath Singh will have detailed review of  security arrangements for Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrimage,” sources said, adding the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has already made it clear that it was ready to extend any kind of assistance including additional companies of para-military forces for security of Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrims.
Sources said keeping in view the increased presence of militants in South Kashmir, the Centre doesn’t want to take any chances with security of Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrims as the yatra has its traditional base camp at Nunwan, Pahalgam, which falls in Anantnag district of South Kashmir.
The Union Home Minister will also hold review of Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) in Srinagar with top officers of civil administration. The PMDP, which was Rs 80,068 crore when it was sanctioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 7, 2015, has already gone up to Rs one lakh crore in view of cost escalation of many projects during to jumping of timelines.
During his tour, Rajnath is likely to be accompanied by top brass of the MHA including those dealing with Jammu and Kashmir.


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