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Civilian construction near Army camps a problem: Sitharaman

PTI | Jammu |


Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the construction of civilian houses adjacent to Army camps “with permission” from authorities is a problem.

“Civil constructions are taking place near the boundary walls (of Army camps across the country) and it is getting difficult to remove these constructions because these are taking place with permission,” she told reporters on Monday.

“I am studying the scenario in the entire country and will definitely come out with a solution.”

Sitharaman was in Jammu yesterday to visit the people injured in Saturday’s attack on an Army camp in Sunjuwan by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists based across the border.

Six people, including five soldiers, were killed in the attack. Three militants were also killed in Army retaliation.

The defence minister’s visit to Jammu came as an encounter ensued between security forces and terrorists near a CRPF camp in Srinagar’s Karan Nagar area. A CRPF jawan was killed and a policeman was injured in the exchange of fire yesterday. The CRPF has claimed it thwarted the attempt by the terrorists to attack its camp there.

Sitharaman blamed Pakistan for the terrorist attack on Sunjuwan camp and said Islamabad will pay the price for the “misadventure”. She said even though the evidence of Pakistan’s role in the attack may be shared, India reserved the “right to respond adequately at the time our choosing”.

Asked about her stand on Jammu and Kashmir government’s amnesty for stone-pelters, she said, “I think first-time offenders were given amnesty and I am aware of that”.

On the filing of an FIR against an Army major over the killing of three civilians in Shopian last month, she said the case is “sub-judice” and today the Supreme Court in response to the father of the officer has given a stay of 15 days on the FIR.

“We have to see how it goes and we stand by our proud soldiers. In the call of duty if they have performed something, (it) still has to be contextualised and that is something on which I understand. I am not sure yet, but subject to verification, the defence ministry will respond to the Supreme Court,” she said.

Sitharaman assured full support to the Army and said, “The ministry of defence, me as the defence minister, and the Government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership will not let anybody down.”

“The Army is working under severe duress and we are conscious about it,” she said.