The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Patil waves off talks derail scare
Isolated incident not to hit dialogue

New Delhi, May 29: The peace process between India and Pakistan will not be derailed by an isolated militant action, Union home minister Shivraj Patil said today.

“One incident cannot derail the peace process. It cannot change the government’s policy in this regard or scare us,” the minister said after meeting five Border Security Force jawans injured in the May 23 landmine explosion that killed 29 people travelling in a bus on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

“The talks will continue,” he added.

The Pakistan-based militant group Hizb-ul Mujahideen had claimed responsibility for the attack in which several family members of the troopers also died.

The bus, carrying troopers on leave and their families towards Jammu, was part of a convoy.

Patil, who met the injured jawans at Safdarjung Hospital, acknowledged that the attack may have been “an attempt to sabotage the peace process”, but emphasised that the security situation was under “constant observation”. He suggested that the government was not only looking at fighting militancy with guns but also with other means.

Asked if the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government would remain pro-active in fighting militancy, the minister said: “Being pro-active does not just mean using the security apparatus. It also means political and economic efforts.”

Patil said infiltration along the borders has not stopped. “It has not completely stopped but I do not want to comment on whether it has declined or escalated. Our endeavour will be to stop infiltration completely,” he said.

Asked why the People’s Democratic Party, the Congress’ partner in government in Jammu and Kashmir, had failed to condemn the incident even after five days, the minister said “may be they have and the media has not carried it”.

There has been no statement from either chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed or PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. On her recent visit to Delhi, Mehbooba had refused to explain her party’s silence.

Patil, who visited the hospital after reports that BSF officers were complaining that no central leader had spared a thought for the injured jawans, denied there was a delay in visiting them.

“There was no delay in reacting to the incident. I have been condemning the attacks since day one,” he said.

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