Welcoming the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra on Monday said the Omar Abdullah-led government was committed to zero tolerance on human rights violations in the State, though militancy would be fought with a heavy hand.
During his 50-minute-long address to the joint session of State Legislature in Jammu on Monday, Mr. Vohra said: “Effective initiatives must necessarily be taken against militants, and my government is absolutely clear that all the action taken should be in conformity with the law. The zero tolerance policy of the government has ensured that there is much greater respect for human rights and that prompt action is taken whenever violations occur.”
“In addition, the Empowered Committee system was made fully functional during 2009, which made it possible to consider the recommendations made by the State Human Rights Commission [SHRC] during the year with a minimum time lag.”
He said the government would try to achieve the difficult balance between empowering the security forces and the police to act decisively and effectively, and the firm commitment to ensure that human rights violations did not occur during the course of such action.
With the joint session on Monday, the 45-day-long budget session of the Assembly and Council also began. Mr. Vohra said the 2008 elections were truly a watershed, given the exceptionally large turnout of over 61 per cent, adding: “My government took office in an atmosphere of hope and expectation.”
“The people of Jammu and Kashmir unequivocally affirmed their faith in the democratic process and clearly demonstrated their desire to put the past behind them. The unambiguous message given to the separatists and to all those who oppose the democratic process is that the problems of the State can be best resolved by political means, within the established democratic and parliamentary system. The rejection of violence, implicit in this message, needs to be taken note of by all those opposed to democracy,” he said.
Affirming the government’s resolve to effectively counter militancy and terrorism, Mr. Vohra said: “It is clear that socio-economic development cannot be achieved unless an atmosphere of relative peace, tranquillity and harmony prevails in the State. There has been a significant reduction in terrorist-related incidents in the State in 2009. There were only 499 terrorist incidents last year as compared to 708 in 2008 and 1,092 in 2007. This trend clearly shows that the situation is progressively improving, significantly. All the other indices also indicate a return to normalcy in the State.”
During 2009, a total of 239 militants were killed and 187 arrested. More importantly, a number of influential militant field commanders were eliminated. However, the Governor said areas of concern remained.
“There was a rise in attempts to infiltrate into the State across the Line of Control and the International Border during 2009 and in January 2010. The security forces are taking all necessary action to prevent infiltration,” Mr. Vohra said.