Mehbooba says Talks; Nirmala wants Pak

TNN Bureau. Updated: 2/13/2018 9:29:02 AM Front Page

"Pak will pay; We'll choose when"

JAMMU: In what was a no-holds-barred attack launched from Jammu, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday blamed Pakistan for the terror attack at the Sunjuwan Military Camp and made it clear that it will pay the price for the "misadventure".
Asserting that the nation has evidences of Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist outfit and its chief Maulana Azhar Masood 's role in the Sunjwan attack which resulted into death of five soldiers and one civilian, Nirmala underlined that India has the 'right to respond adequately at the time our choosing'.
"Pakistan will pay for this misadventure. I repeat Pakistan will pay for it," said the defence minister, who arrived in Jammu Monday afternoon to take stock of the situation told reporters, as she addressed a press-conference at Tiger Cantonment.
"I would not certainly set a timeline but Pakistan will pay for this misadventure. I can only assure the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the entire country that the Army, both the governments at the state and the centre, are definitely looking at it with all seriousness," she said.
Nirmala informed that the counter terrorist operation was called off at 10:30 am today and the inquiry of the case has been handed over to National Investigation Agency (NIA). She added that the sanitized operation was still on.
Asked whether the government was sharing evidence with Pakistan, Sitharaman replied in the affirmative.
"Yes, all the evidences which have been collected will be compiled and definitely the evidences will be given as always to Pakistan. But Pakistan, inspite of being given dossiers after dossiers, has not taken any action, she said, adding that the Centre would provide evidence to prove that the handlers of the terrorists were back in Pakistan and were influencing the attack.
Sitharaman said giving evidence to Pakistan would have to be a continuous process because it has to be proven over and over again, as many number of times, so that their involvement is there for everybody to see.
"The evidences will strengthen that argument. But giving that does not deny us our right to respond adequately and at a time of which we think fit," she said.
She also said that the Ministry of Defence will stand by the army and will not let anybody down.
Sitharaman hailed the coordination among various security agencies operating in the state and said "there will be more information sharing with state police".
Sitharaman said intelligence inputs suggested that terrorists who attacked the Sunjuwan Camp were controlled by handlers from across the border.
Three terrorists were killed even as the initial information was about four of them, she said adding that the fourth may have acted as a guide.
The attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists, sponsored by Pakistan based Azhar Masood, resulted in the death of six people including five soldiers, she told reporters.
The defence minister said that quick reaction teams (QRTs) were deployed in vulnerable areas. It was assessed that Pak-Sponsored terrorists may target softer elements, hence, QRTs were also positioned at Sunjuwan family quarters, she said.
Sitharaman said the intrusions of the terrorists was promptly detected by the sentry and challenged by a nearby QRT leading to the brief exchange of fire.
"This immediate action forced terrorists to split into individual positions and prevented a coordinated strike. The scattered terrorists reached the family quarters and occupied some of the blocks," she said.
They were isolated, and since the terrorists were dressed in battle fatigues, and had an appearance similar to to their possible victims, the operation had to be done "deliberately slow" to avoid collateral damages, she said.
"The operation entailed the deliberate search of 26 blocks and safe evacuation of families from 189 flats which was time consuming and a challenging task , she said.
Sitharaman also blamed Pakistan for infiltration of terrorists into J&K and said it was expanding the arc of terror to the areas south of Pir Panjal Ranges.
Asked about the situation in the state, she said "whether it has improved or not, I am not going to say anything on that. We, in coordination with home ministry and ministry of external affairs, are working with the state government to improve the situation and will continue to work in this direction".
She said all have to work together to make sure that the Army is taken care of, because they are fighting a very very severe struggle. Sitharaman also visited the injured at the hospital today.
Asked about her reaction on FIR on Major Aditya in Shopian civilian killing incident, which rocked J&K assembly post which the state government had lodged the FIR, the Defence Minister said that she came to know that father of Major got a 15-days stay from Supreme Court over the FIR.

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