Amid reports that the Centre may scale down security cover of Kashmiri separatists and restrain various facilities enjoyed by the, in view of the Valley unrest, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said withdrawal of such facilities was long overdue.
"The facilities extended to Kashmiri separatists should have been withdrawn long time back," he said after attending a function here.
The Defence Minister was in the city to present the FGI Excellence awards and attend a function organised at Siddhivinayak temple in Dandiya bazaar locality, where RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat presented a sacred thread made up of gold to the deity.
Responding to a query by PTI whether separatists should continue enjoy the perks at the cost of exchequer, the minister said, "There is a concern about separatists getting such facilities. I favour withdrawal of such facilities."
His remarks came amid indications that the Centre may harden its attitude towards separatists following the cold shoulder given by them to the MPs, who were part of an all-party delegation, during their recent visit to J&K.
Miffed by the snub by separatists, the government was considering moves to curb foreign travel of separatists by withdrawing their passports and denying travel documents in some cases, besides scaling down their security cover.
However, after the meeting of the all-party delegation in Delhi on September 7, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and MIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi had said that Home minister Rajnath Singh denied that there was a plan to curtail the security provided to separatist leaders.
Parrikar also justified deployment of additional troops in Kashmir, saying it was aimed at foiling attempts by terrorists to enter India from across the border and that the move had nothing to do with the ongoing unrest in the Valley.
"Army does not act in internal matters unless requested by local administration. Our mandate is to seal the border and foil infiltration bids by terrorists.
Today, three infiltrators were killed when they tried to enter India," Parrikar said.
Army today foiled three separate infiltration attempts along LoC in Kashmir in Naugam, Tangdhar and Gurez sectors.
Parrikar further said that the civilian protests are not under the jurisdiction of Army, and "additional deployment of soldiers has nothing to do with tackling unrest in civilian areas in Kashmir."
On holding talks with all stake-holders, including separatists, and formulating special strategies to tackle law and order situation in Kashmir, the minister said, "The Home Ministry decides on these issues."
He added that the Union government has been handling violence in the Valley pro-actively, "which comes from across the border. A small percentage is holding the majority to ransom in the state."
(With PTI inputs)