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Govt to beef up security for Indian personnel in Afghanistan
December 01, 2005 16:43 IST
Making it clear that India would not succumb to terrorism and continue to help Afghanistan, the government said on Thursday that it proposed to beef up security for Indian personnel working in that country, following the abduction and killing of Border Roads Organisation driver Maniappam Raman Kutty.
"We are concerned. A large number of people are working not only working in Afghanistan but the whole of West Asia. From a security point of view, these areas are of concern," Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Rajya Sabha.
He was replying to a clarification on a suo moto statement on the killing of the BRO driver at the hands of Taliban last month.
But at the same time, he said, there could be no foolproof security as Indian government had to depend on the local government as well.
Regarding the highway construction project connecting southern Afghanistan with Iran, Mukherjee said it would continue - "We will not succumb to this type of terrorism and we will continue to help Afghanistan".
He said 38 Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel were providing security for the project and efforts are being made to increase the security strength; its details were being worked out by the director general of BRO with Afghan authorities. It was the desire of Taliban to stall the project but India was committed to complete it, the minister said.
Asserting that India's assistance to Afghanistan government is intact, Mukherjee said, "In no part of the world can you buy peace by compromising or succumbing to the pressure of terrorists, whatever be the price. And sometimes, it is a very heavy price."
As a nation, he said, India is the worst victim of terrorism from both inside and outside and 'it is necessary to tell them that the project will continue'.
To a pointed question from former External Affairs minister Yashwant Sinha, Mukherjee admitted that Pakistan authorities had been contacted to explore possibilities of release of Kutty from Taliban.
He, however, said that Pakistan was not approached in a formal manner and Islamabad had responded by saying it ceased to have any contacts with the Afghan militia.
At that point of time, the main concern was to secure the release of Kutty and all possible channels were explored. "Our entire exercise then was directed at whatever source we can to save the person. It is not correct to say that we did not make any effort," Mukherjee said.
He also made it clear that National Security Adviser M K Narayanan had not stated that there was a Pakistani hand in the killing of Kutty. All he had stated in Kerala was about the growth of Taliban and Pakistan's close links with it. Nowhere had he mentioned that Islamabad was involved in this particular incident, the minister said.
Regarding adequate compensation to Kutty's family, Mukherjee said the normal provident fund and other benefits worked out to about Rs 9 lakh. That apart, the Centre has announced Rs 5 lakh aid and state government had reportedly agreed to give a matching assistance, he added.
Also Kutty's wife would get a pension equivalent to the last salary drawn by him as a special case, he said, adding efforts are being made to provide her employment in a public sector unit, besides providing education to her two children at least upto graduation.