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Rajnath appeals to parties to take part in Panchayat, ULB polls

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“Inaugurates two smart fence pilot projects along the Indo-Pak border”

Jammu, Sep 17: Home Minister Rajnath Singh Monday appealed to political parties to participate in the forthcoming Panchayat and urban local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir, in the wake of the NC and the PDP announcing a boycott of the elections.

Singh’s appeal came after the two major regional parties — the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party — announced that they would not take part in the elections as the Centre has not cleared its stand on Article 35-A of the Constitution.

“I would like to appeal that all the political parties should participate in the political process. This will provide an opportunity to them to interact with the people,” Singh said at a press conference here.

Article 35-A was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order and accords special rights and privileges to the Jammu and Kashmir citizens.

The Article, which bars non-state subjects from owning immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir, has been challenged in the Supreme Court and the matter is still under consideration.

To a question, the Home minister said India has made all efforts to improve its relations with Pakistan and cited the impromptu visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to that country to buttress his point.

“We cannot change the behaviour of Pakistan. They will have to understand how to behave with a neighbour,” he said.

Singhsaid he is hoping for a change in Pakistan’s mindset and end “support to terrorism” as India wants good relations with its neighbour.

“They (Pakistan) have to do it on their own (to give up “supporting terrorism”). They have to understand how the neighbours are treated. India tried its best, keeping in mind the neighbourly relations, and initiated measures like our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) broke the protocol and visited Pakistan for the sake of better relations but if they fail to understand what one can do,” he said.

When asked whether he was hoping that there would be change in Pakistan mindset after the change of the government there, he said he was not hoping so.  However, he said, “I am praying for a change to take place there. It will be good.”

When asked whether the two Kashmir-based parties were following separatist agenda and not thinking about the people by boycotting the elections, Singh declined to make a comment.

Earlier, Singh inaugurated two smart fence pilot projects along the Indo-Pak border near here.

“Border security is our top most priority. I am happy to inaugurate two pilot projects under CIBMS (Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System) today.

CIBMS uses a number of different devices for surveillance, communication and data storage.  Sensors like Thermal Imager, UGS, Fiber Optical Sensors, Radar, Sonar have been mounted on different platforms like Aerostat, tower, poles etc. A comprehensive integration of such sensors and other technical systems of communication and data processing have been achieved in the CIBMS project. The signals reach the Unified Command and Control Centre where the BSF can monitor the border on real-time basis. The CIBMS enables round-the-clock surveillance on border and under different weather conditions be it in dust storm, fog or rain.

“We have already identified vulnerable areas and gaps on all borders,” he said.

Singh said the government was working towards upgrading border infrastructure, and more than 600 km roads have been constructed in border areas and hundreds of border out-posts have been built.

“Initially the CIBMS project will be implemented to cover gaps in the physical fencing on the border. Subsequently, these technological solution will be implemented on the entire border,” he said.

This is the first time the Home minister is visiting the border state after the fall of the PDP-BJP government on June 19. The visit comes just four days after three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants were killed in an encounter at Kakriyal in Reasi district on Thursday.

“Today two pilot projects were launched here. Another CIBMS project, covering a 60-km stretch in Assam, will be launched in November. We are dedicating this system to those jawans who sacrificed their lives to safeguard the borders of the country,” he said.

He said the CIBMS would cover 2,600 km of vulnerable stretches on the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir and in Assam.

“After the introduction of this technology, our borders will become safer than before. Earlier, our jawans used to remain physically present in harsh conditions, regardless of fog, darkness or stormy conditions. This system will reduce casualties and help de-stress troops who are stationed in border areas for long periods. The need for physical presence will also come down,” he said.

MoS PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, Speaker J&K Legislative Assembly Dr Nirmal Singh, Members of Parliament Shamsher Singh Manhas and Jugal Kishore Sharma, Legislators Kavinder Gupta and Bali Bhagat, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, Director General Police, Dilbag Singh, Principal Secretary Planning Rohit Kansal, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma, IGP Jammu, SDS Jamwal and other senior officers were also present on the occasion.

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