Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday said the Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) cannot dictate terms to India and that “we cannot be deterred with its threats.”
Mr. Chidambaram asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to formulate a surrender policy for the return of Kashmiri youth from the other side of the Line of Control, keeping in view apprehensions in various sections.
The Minister, who arrived in Jammu on Wednesday and chaired a meeting of the Unified Headquarters, told journalists that the Government of India would give full protection to every player, every coach and every official participating in the coming hockey, cricket and Commonwealth games. He was referring to HuJI chief Ilyas Kashmiri’s warning to India through the Asian Times Online. The portal said it received Kashmiri’s message on Monday morning, shortly after the Pune blast.
“We warn the international community not to send their people for the 2010 Hockey World Cup, IPL [Indian Premier League] and Commonwealth Games. Nor should their people visit India. If they do, they should face for the consequences,” Kashmiri’s statement said. However, the Home Minister asserted that “ Kashmiri cannot dictate our course of action. We are not deterred by what he says.”
On the surrender policy, he said his Ministry had asked the State government to formulate a policy, speed it up and send a draft proposal to “us at the earliest.”
“It will take some time, but we need to have foolproof mechanism. The idea is that we must facilitate youth who may have crossed over to PoK [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] to return to this part of J&K [Jammu and Kashmir] to re-unite with their families if they renounce militancy.”
He said the State was asked to keep in mind certain issues while formulating the policy in order to allay theapprehensions in certain quarters. “I have identified some elements of the scheme which have to be factored in, like identification, screening, facilitating travel to this part of Jammu and Kashmir, debriefing, rehabilitation and then integration with the community.”
Mr. Chidambaram said there was nothing new in this policy. The government was following this — the Central Reserve Police Force raised a full battalion after 1997, followed by the Border Security Force, which recruited 450 militants, he said, adding that the same policy was in force in the northeast, where surrendered militants were absorbed into the State police.
In the same breath, he asked naxalites to shun violence. “We ask them to shun violence and they will also be rehabilitated.”
To a question on Pakistan’s reaction, he said, “Why should I aspire for a reaction from Islamabad. It does not concern me.”
The Home Minister said there was a rise in the number of militancy-related incidents but the situation was improving. “In 45 days of this calendar year, there have been 65 incidents. There is a rise in the number of incidents. Seven civilians have been killed, nine members of the security forces have lost their lives, four from the J&K police, four from the Army and one from the BSF and 24 terrorists have been neutralised” he said. “I think the security forces are doing a commendable job and gradually they are gaining an upper hand. In fact, they have heeded our advice and are dealing with the situation with great tact and wisdom.”
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Wednesday that Australian authorities were in “closest possible” contact with their Indian counterparts over threats to international sportspersons by the HuJI.
“Indian authorities have pledged to implement strong security procedures for all coming sporting events in India,” he said. “We, however, will be following this very, very closely.”
The Australian men’s field hockey team will have an armed guard throughout the World Cup, according to local media, but national coach Ric Charlesworth was quoted as saying he was not overly concerned about the threat.