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Shinde Kashmir salve

New Delhi, March 14: Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today sought to address the concerns of the people of Kashmir while responding in Parliament to yesterday’s terror attack, refraining from echoing the Opposition’s Pakistan-bashing.

“We do not want to keep the military there for too long,” Shinde told the Rajya Sabha, replying to clarifications sought by the Opposition on his written statement about the attack on a CRPF camp in Srinagar.

Shinde made it clear that the gun-toting paramilitary would have to be replaced eventually with the less intimidating, lathi-wielding policemen, appearing to focus on an apprehension in Kashmir where demands for a pullout of the military and a stop to its alleged abuses aren’t new.

The minister also appeared to play down the alleged involvement of home-grown terrorists in yesterday’s attack for which Hizb-ul Mujahideen, a Valley-based outfit, has claimed responsibility. He said in his speech that the “authenticity of the claim needed to be verified”.

In his written statement, Shinde said the two attackers shot dead “were foreigners”, though he did not allude to Pakistan. “Investigations have revealed that a betnovate ointment tube (found on the militant) was manufactured in GlaxoSmithKline Pak Ltd, at 35 Dockyard, Karachi,” the statement said.

He sought to suggest that, despite the attack and the recent backlash over Afzal Guru’s hanging, the situation had improved, citing a visit to Srinagar’s Lal Chowk in chief minister Omar Abdullah’s private car with little security.

Shinde iterated that the Centre took into account the possibility of a resurgence in militancy after Afzal’s execution.

“After two executions (of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru), there was ought to be action (by terrorists).”

But he pointed out it was the Opposition that had been demanding Afzal’s hanging. “Had I not taken action (on hanging) you would have again attacked me for that.”