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Feared J&K force fades out

Jammu, Feb. 24: The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government has formally announced the end of the special operations group, the dreaded counter-insurgency wing that invited charges of highhandedness during Farooq Abdullahís rule.

The group will be assimilated into the regular state police force. Anti-militancy operations of the police will now be carried out under the supervision of district superintendents of police. Such missions will now be treated as ordinary law and order operations.

The post of the superintendent of police (operations) have been re-designated as additional superintendent of police of the district.

The Mufti government had been thinking of disbanding the special operations group but it was being prevented from doing so by coalition partner Congress that is facing elections in several states.

The Congress is worried that its political rivals would seize the issue to cast aspersions on the partyís commitment to fight terrorism.

A government spokesman said the ďassimilationĒ was another step taken by the Mufti government to fulfil the promised made in the common minimum programme.

The budget session of the Jammu and Kashmir legislature began today with a call by the state government to the country to treat the Kashmir crisis as a national issue by putting it above partisan considerations.

Choosing the backdrop of the appointment of former Union home secretary N.N. Vohra as interlocutor for initiating a dialogue on Kashmir, Governor G.C. Saxena said the government wants the talks to welcome all shades of opinion in the best traditions of democracy and the nationís ethos of unity in diversity.

He said the coalition government would continue to address the internal dimensions of the problem while leaving the diplomatic channels to take care of the aspects that are not under its control.

The Governorís hour-long speech also echoed the governmentís efforts to avoid a direct confrontation with militants.

Saxena expressed the hope that young men will realise that in modern and civilised societies, political goals cannot be achieved through the barrel of the gun.

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