The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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George rules out truce

Guwahati, Nov. 9: Defence minister George Fernandes today said the Centre had no plan to offer ceasefire to militants in Jammu and Kashmir during the month of Ramazan.

On a day’s visit to the state, Fernandes said the government was not likely to announce a unilateral ceasefire in the Valley as it had done last year.

The defence minister was reacting to reports that security forces would declare a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir this month. “No such decision has been taken by the government,” he said.

Fernandes said the army was asked last year not to take any initiative during Ramazan following feelers that the militants might come forward for peace talks if security forces ceased operations.

“The army was asked to cease operation during Ramazan accordingly, but it was also decided that the army would give its reply if militants carried out attacks on them,” the minister said.

Asked to comment on the reported presence of al Qaida militants in Bangladesh, Fernandes said the home ministry was in touch with Bangladesh officials in this regard. He, however, claimed that the Indo-Bangladesh border is “well guarded”.

Admitting that the Indo-Bangladesh border is porous, the defence minister said “the porous border has to be taken care of and it was only a matter of time”.

However, even as the state government has been urging the Centre to take steps to demolish the camps of Assam militants in the jungles of Bhutan, Fernandes was non-committal on any joint offensive in the Himalayan kingdom to flush out the rebels.

Following the massacre of 21 people by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland militants at Datgiri in Kokrajhar bordering Bhutan chief minister tarun gogoi urged the centre to take immediate steps for demolition of the militants camps in bhutan. gogoi said that unless these camps were demolished it as not possible for the state government to prevent the militants from carrying out their acitivities of hit and run.

fernandes, however, parried questions on militants operating from bhutan jungles saying that home ministry has been taking necessary steps in this regard. even on the demand raised by gogoi for deployment of a dedicated force along indo-bhutan border, the defence minister said that it was upto the home ministry to decide if it has already been brought to its notice by the state government.

the defence minister, however, stressed on the need for building up a strong public opinion to bring the militants to the negotiation table. he said that leading citizens of the country should come forward to building up the public opinion to bring the misguided youths to mainstream.

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