OTHERS

New strategies being formulated to counter infiltration

SRINAGAR, MAY 7. Faced with the possibility of an increase in infiltration from across the border as snow melts in the higher reaches of Pir Panjal range, the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, today reviewed measures being taken by the security agencies to counter the influx.

The Home Minister was closeted for about an hour in a meeting with the Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Mr. Girish Saxena, the Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, the Director-General of Police, Mr. Gurbachan Jagat and other senior officials of security and intelligence agencies.

Talking to mediapersons who accompanied him to the Kashmir valley during his day-long visit, Mr. Advani said that newer strategies were being formulated to tackle and check the intrusion of militants and saboteurs from across the border.

Mr. Advani said he also told the Chief Minister to take steps to revive tourism in the State on a large scale as its economy mainly thrived on tourism.

Reiterating the three-pronged approach of the Centre in dealing with militancy, the Home Minister said the BJP-led government was willing to talk to the ``misguided youth'' who had been sucked into the vortex of militancy in Kashmir, North-East or any other State.

``The Government is willing to hold talks with any group or organisation which has taken to militancy because their legitimate grievances were not redressed and they could find no other way. The Government should always be willing to discuss their issues. This willingness to talk to our own people is an important component of the three-pronged approach,'' he said.

Mr. Advani said the aid of the security forces to tackle with those indulging in violence, killings and sabotage

was the first part of the approach. ``But we realise that militancy finds fertile ground where legitimate grievances of the people are not redressed. Therefore, we feel that important part of the Government's approach has to be vigorous development and tackling unemployment,'' he added.

The Home Minister reiterated that the Government's willingness to talk had shown some positive results in Nagaland and Assam.

Referring to the developmental activities in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Advani said he would convene a meeting with the Railway Ministry shortly to ask them to complete the ongoing projects in the State. Similarly, other Central Ministries would also be persuaded to pay special attention to Jammu and Kashmir.

As part of efforts to promote tourism in the State, where tourist inflow was on upswing in 1998 and dipped in the wake of Kargil conflict, the State Government has persuaded the hoteliers to offer about 30 per cent discount to tourists.

Mr. Advani's day in the valley also included a boat ride in the Dal Lake alongwith Dr. Abdullah which had curious onlookers gathering in herds. During his half-an-hour ride, he encountered a few tourists from Gujarat, Karnataka and West Bengal. ``This trend has to be encouraged. More tourists should be attracted to the valley and I am confident that the situation would turn around soon,'' he quipped.