The J&K Minister of State for Home Sajad Ahmed Kichloo, Monday said that the credit for improvement in security scenario goes to the general public, who are yearning for peace and progress. He also complimented the security agencies for helping in bringing normalcy, “our police and SF deserve great compliments for exhibiting great patience, fortitude and professionalism while handling the law and order situation in trying circumstances.”
Speaking at the conference of Chief Ministers at New Delhi on behalf of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Kichloo said that though overall security and general Law and order situation has shown a tangible improvement in the last couple of years but there should be no complacency in this regard. He said there was an urgent need to modernizes, upgrade and equip police training institutes to impart quality training to new recruits and in service Police personnel. He strongly demanded to increase the honorarium of SPOs from existing Rs. 3000 to Rs. 5000 per SPO per month, adding that increase in their honorarium will go a long way in motivating them for better service delivery.
The meeting was attending by Union Home Minister, Chief Ministers of various States, Lt. Governors, Union Home Secretary and concerned officers of the Central and State Governments.
Giving statistics, Kichloo said due to improvement in the security scenario, 179 schools, 37 hotels, 919 private’s buildings, 264 Government buildings and 26 industrial units have been vacated so far from the occupation of security forces and respond for their original use.
“At present, 03 hospitals, 28 hotels, 1526 private buildings, 283 Government buildings and 18 other establishments (factories, orchards etc) are under the occupation of security forces/army. Efforts are afoot to have these premises vacated as early as possible to facilitate their use for original purpose. 54 static bunkers have been removed from public places in Srinagar till date,” Kichloo said.
Talking about the rise in tourism related activities, Kichloo said that as the security conditions in the State continue to improve, tourist feels safe and secure to visit the State. “Foreign counties too have begun to withdrawn adverse travel advisories so that their citizens can visit Jammu and Kashmir. The State Government would continue to work in unison with the Central Government to have the travel advisories withdraw by other foreign countries,” he said.
“During 2012, a record number of 12, 36,941 tourists including 38,958 foreign tourists visited the State in comparison to 8, 98,558 including 32,217 foreign tourists in the year 2011. During the year 2012, about 1, 01, 38,256 pilgrims visited Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine whereas 6, 21,104 pilgrims visited the Shri Amar Nath Ji Holy cave during the same period,” he added.
Reiterating the demand of removal of AFSPA, Kichloo said, “in view of overall improvement in security situation, our Government has been pitching for phase-wise removal of AFSPA from the State, starting from municipal limits of Srinagar and Jammu cities,” adding that this proposed more has been also been recommended by the Prime Minister Working Group No.1 Sagheer Committee report and the Group of interlocutors.
“Now that the AFSPA has played its role, both the Government of India and the State Government need to make concerted efforts for withdrawal of the AFSPA from the State in a phased manner so that the people can feel the impact of the changed security scenario,” Kichloo mainatined. He reiterated that the demand for revocation of AFSPA is linked with the aspirations of the people and it will be an investment towards restorations of normalcy in the State.
Advocating that dialogue process should be resumed, he said that in the context of restoring normalcy and bringing lasting peace in the State, it is essential that the process of dialogue may be resumed with the neighboring country, adding that the State Government will always welcome all such initiatives which are aimed at restoring normalcy, peace and tranquility in the State. He said there is also need to further ease the restrictions which are impeding the cross LoC trade.
Kichloo also dwelt in the length on the policy for return of ex-militants from across the border to J&K State and said that so far 257 ex-militants along with their 117 spouses and 367 children have returned by Nepal route. He said the Nepal route is required to be recognized as one of the routes under the policy. He also urged the need for exhibiting greater synergy between various agencies so that objective sought to be achieved through this important CBM are realized, adding that 1094 application have been received so far on behalf of prospective returnees. “Out of these applications, 422 have been recommended, while rest of these cases are in scrutiny”, Kichloo added.
Kichloo made a strong plea to the Centre to sanction five additional special IR Battalions (Law and Order) to reduce dependence on central-para-military forces deployed in the State for Law and order duties, adding that a proposal in this regard has already been submitted to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Kichloo said due to strict surveillance of borders by the security forces and specific intelligence inputs gathered from different sources including common people, by the Police and other intelligence agencies has resulted in considerable reduction in infiltration bids adding that keeping in view the fast improving situation in the State, the foot prints of security forces are being progressively reduced so that people can benefit from the improved security scenario. He said during last two years, the total crime related cases in the State have marginally declined by 0.12 per cent whereas serious types of crime have been well under control. The crime in the State per lakh population is 217, Kichloo added.
Kichloo gave a detailed account of the welfare and development initiatives taken by the government to steer the State in an era of peace, progress and prosperity. He made a special mention about strengthening of Panchayat Raj Institutions in the State, election to four legislative Council seats from the Panchayats representatives, launching of HIMAYAT, UDAAN, and UMEED for providing jobs to the unemployed youth, adding that the Prime Minister’s package for Return and Rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants to Kashmir valley is being implemented in letter and spirit.
Kichloo while wishing the conference a big success said that these get together provide a suitable platform for sharing our concerns on the issues relating to Internal Security and build a consensus on ways and means to strengthen the internal security apparatus.