The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Azad says no to troops slash

Srinagar, March 5: Ghulam Nabi Azad today said there would be no demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir as long as he continued to be chief minister.

“For me, the life and security of people are more important and I will not risk that whether the government stays or falls,” Azad said in Kokernag, south Kashmir, when asked about a veiled threat issued by ally People’s Democratic Party to pull out of the government.

“As long as I am here, I will not give in to demands raised for political reasons,” the chief minister told the thousands who turned up to hear him.

Azad (in picture) said the Prime Minister and the defence minister had made their stand clear on demilitarisation. “Everybody, including me and the army, wants demilitarisation here but you have to see the cost we have to pay if it happens now,” he said.

“More than 5,000 security personnel have given their lives for our security and they shiver outside in freezing temperatures when we rest inside. If they are removed from any place, what if militants come and kill 50 people' Who will take responsibility for that'’’ he asked.

The chief minister, however, assured action against those security personnel who are believed to be involved in fake encounter killings. “Nobody will be spared,” he said.

Azad has come under increasing pressure from the PDP and other allies who have raked up the issue of demilitarisation and withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act after Kashmir was rocked by reports of fake encounters.

The chief minister’s salvo came after the PDP boycotted a cabinet meeting here.

A senior PDP leader, however, said: “We will take the ultimate step (pull out of the government), if our demands are not conceded. We are surprised at the outright rejection of demilitarisation by the chief minister and we are meeting to discuss the issue.”

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