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Hurriyat threat: Advani, Fernandes review situation

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, FEB. 25. Taking seriously the threat of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to pull out of talks, the Government today made yet another round of attempts to address the issue of alleged violations of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir by security forces.

The Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, and the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, held a 30-minute meeting this evening to review the situation arising out of the Hurriyat Conference threat to suspend the peace talks with the Centre if alleged human rights violations did not stop. Mr. Fernandes sought to downplay the development, saying these issues of Hurriyat's concern would be "definitely solved.''

Mr. Fernandes told reporters that action would be taken against those security personnel found guilty of human rights violations.

He expressed the hope that there would be no impediments in the path of peace and appealed to all concerned to contribute towards it. Later, Mr. Advani held a high-level review meeting with the top Home Ministry officials and the Centre's interlocutor on Kashmir, N.N.Vohra.

Barely a month ago had passed when Mr. Advani, and the five Hurriyat Conference leaders had held their first-ever round of discussions in the Capital, and a flurry of incidents at Bandipora and Tral areas near Srinagar involving killings of civilians allegedly by security forces rocked the State. Over the past month, as many as 18 persons were killed, allegedly in custody and 15 have disappeared.

Putting its act together, Mr. Advani presided over a meeting of the Army Chief, and chiefs of all Central forces deployed in the State to observe strict compliance of human rights and hand out punishment to the personnel found guilty of violating human rights.

The Minister of State for Home, I.D. Swami, said the Government's concern over human rights could be seen by the fact that the DPM took a meeting of top Army and Central forces soon after the Bandipora incident.

"The Government is much more concerned than anyone else on human rights issue. Violations of human rights will cease completely. The Government does not want the peace process, initiated by the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with Pakistan or Hurriyat to suffer any setbacks,'' he said.

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