The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani stamp on Mufti policy

New Delhi, March 31: The high-profile security meeting on Kashmir today endorsed Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s healing-touch policy without using the term and set up a special group to chalk out an anti-terror strategy for the state.

The two-and-a-half hour meeting was called by deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani after last week’s massacre of 24 Pundits in Nadimarg.

A statement released by the home ministry after the meeting said: “The changed atmosphere amongst the people of Jammu and Kashmir following the conduct of free and fair elections was noted as were the recent efforts of the present state government at providing better governance and winning the hearts of the people.”

Chief minister Mufti’s “soft” line on terrorism had drawn flak from several BJP leaders, who had demanded his government’s ouster after the massacre and imposition of President’s rule.

The Centre’s latest move, however, shows it has persuaded the BJP leaders to toe its line on the Jammu and Kashmir government. Both Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani believe that Pakistan is keen on discrediting the Mufti government as it poses a real danger to Islamabad’s hopes of keeping Kashmiri Muslims alienated from the rest of the country.

The special group — led by the special secretary, Jammu and Kashmir, in the home ministry — will draw up an action plan for more comprehensive security for all sections of people in the state, with emphasis on the Pundit and Sikh minorities. The action plan will be submitted within three months.

The group will comprise representatives of the army, Central paramilitary forces and intelligence agencies as well as senior state police and other officials.

“The special group will review existing macro strategies of the security forces and intelligence agencies in Jammu and Kashmir and suggest appropriate strategies to be followed to counter terrorism during the coming months,” Union home secretary N. Gopalaswamy said after the meeting.

Mufti, who looked relaxed after the meeting, refused to talk to reporters. He said the home secretary would say whatever needed to be said at the press briefing. The meeting was chaired by Advani and attended by, among others, the foreign and defence ministers.

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