Army Not Required in Srinagar: Kashmir CM

Srinagar, April 29: With security agencies keeping their fingers crossed ahead of the summer in Kashmir, the chief minister of the region, Omar Abdullah Friday said the army is not required in the summer capital of Srinagar.

“I still feel that the Army is not required at many places of the State including Srinagar. It (army) should be removed from Srinagar. However, at the same time, the army presence is required and it should remain there and do the job,” Omar told a private TV news channel 24 during an interview.

All the separatist and pro-Indian leaders in Kashmir have been demanding removal of the army from Srinagar and other places, where militancy has dropped considerably.

On stone-pelting incidents in Kashmir, the chief minister said, “I cannot be held responsible for the stone-pelting incidents in Kashmir and the violence that gripped the region in 2010. The entire issue of stone-pelting did not start last year. It began in 2008 before the assembly elections.”

Over 112 persons, mostly teenagers died in police and paramilitary soldiers firing in Kashmir during a five month long summer unrest last year. The civilian killings triggered massive protests during which youth pelted stones and bricks on the soldiers.

The chief minister expressed his reservation of Chinese presence in the Pakistan administered Kashmir. “China factor in Kashmir deserves serious view. The Chinese growing presence across Ladakh border as well as in PaK cannot be ignored,” he said.

“Chinese presence in PaK deserves serious view. I know that the Government of India is aware of China’s activities in PaK. They are building roads and other key infrastructure projects. They are of strategic importance. As far as Ladakh is concerned, there are still many places where the border demarcation has not done,” Omar said.