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Wrong time for J&K peace initiative:
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | May 06, 2003 11:29 IST
Intelligence agencies say the peace initiative with Pakistan has come at an inappropriate time as infiltration and violence in the Kashmir valley are at their peak.
The dissatisfaction among the intelligence agencies is reflected in the deep divisions within the Union Cabinet over Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's peace overtures.
Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani is among those who have strong reservations about the initiative at a time when terrorists are spreading mayhem in one of the worst summers in Jammu and Kashmir.
On May 2 during a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha joined Advani in advising caution and expressing doubts about Pakistan's sincerity.
Sources also said that the home ministry is yet to prepare a detailed brief for the ministry of external affairs prior to the visit of US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
Usually, the MEA gets a detailed brief from the MHA on the security situation, which forms the basis for most of the discussions between Indian and US leaders.
Armitage is expected to reach India on May 9, but till Tuesday morning, the MHA had not sent its assessment, which any way would not fit into the pro-peace atmosphere prevailing in the MEA and PMO.
According to intelligence assessments, the second half of April, when Prime Minister Vajpayee made the initial overture during his visit to Srinagar, was one of the worst periods in the history of militancy in J&K.
Between April 15 and 30, there were 108 incidents of terrorist violence of which 64 were targeted against security forces. The toll: 136, including 26 security personnel.
The number of security personnel killed are way above the figures for the corresponding period any time in the recent past.
[March 1-15: Number of terrorist attacks -- 60 (total killed -- 68, security personnel killed -- 5)
Intelligence agencies also believe that the period witnessed some aggressive steps by the Pakistani government to abet terrorist violence even as infiltration continues unabated despite the heavy army deployment along the border as terrorists are using new routes to enter the valley.
They do not rule out the possibility of some of these routes being in Gujarat, or via the sea.
Besides, Hizbul Mujahideen and other groups have set up extensive networks in Bangladesh. "Infiltration is no more limited to direct routes into the valley or by the season," an official said.
Traditionally, terrorists used to cross the border through PoK in summer when the snow melted and mountain passes opened up.
More reports from Jammu and Kashmir
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