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RS backs Govt. in tackling militancy

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI MAY 17. The Rajya Sabha today unanimously supported the Government in tackling the situation in the wake of the militant strike at Kaluchak, Jammu while conveying the collective anguish of the House and sense of outrage over the dastardly incident.

The four-hour discussion saw members, cutting across party lines, condemning the attack in which several innocent people including children were killed and urging the Government to calibrate its response.

Initiating the debate, the Congress leader, Pranab Mukherjee, suggested that the country would have to fight the battle against terrorism on its own and not expect any assistance from elsewhere. Contrary to the Government's claim that the effort of the international coalition against terrorism would benefit India, the country had not gained since terrorist strikes were continuing, he said.

While criticising the Government for its inaction despite a strong resolve after the December 13 attack on Parliament House and deploying forces at the borders for nearly six months, Mr. Mukherjee said the Government should make a " hard assessment" and the response should be based on all factors including the changed geo-political situation of the region. He also objected to the Government and ruling party members airing their views publicly on such a sensitive issue and stressed on the need to launch a diplomatic initiative.

Nilotpal Basu (CPI-M), sought to know the level of vigilance and what the defence forces were doing, having been deployed at the borders for such a long time. He also said the presence of the U.S. defence forces in Pakistan had not deterred that country in carrying on with its activities against India. He wondered how the international coalition had helped the country in tackling terrorism.

Shankar Roy Chowdhary (Independent) suggested that while the Government consider sealing the borders, the pattern of deployment be restructured. He stressed that the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir was a `strategic necessity'.

S. M .Lal Jan Bhasha (TDP) suggested immediate action and demanded compensation of Rs. 5 lakhs each for the victims of Kaluchak.

B .P. Apte (BJP) while suggesting that the country wage battle against terrorism on its own, said it was ironical that Pakistan, which was a member of the international coalition against terrorism, had become a breeding ground for terrorists.

Kapil Sibal (Congress) suggested that the Government come forward with a national policy to combat terrorism and reminded the Home Minister L. K. Advani, that while in Opposition he used to emphasise the need for a political will to stamp out terrorism. Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress) said the Government did not have a steady Kashmir policy and charged that it did nothing to ensure the return of Kashmiri pandits to the valley.

The Shiv Sena's Eknath Thakur said that while his party always advocated that Pakistan be given a "befitting reply", at this stage it wanted the entire nation to stand up as one in fighting the scourge of terrorism.

The National Conference's Sharifuddin Shariq said the U.S. had different standards in tackling terrorism, urging India to exercise restrain even in the wake of grave attacks while it declared after September 11, that either one was with the U. S. or with the terrorists.

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