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Rajouri terror attack: Amit Shah and Rajnath to visit J&K border district

Home Minister Amit Shah (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@northinnews1)

Srinagar: Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, are scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir’s border district of Rajouri where seven civilians, including two children, were killed and 10 others left injured in twin terror strikes at the beginning of the new year.

Officials and politicians associated with the Home Minister’s visit said that Shah would be flying to Rajouri’s Dhangri village on Friday mainly to meet the families of the civilians who were targeted in the terror attacks on the 1st and 2nd January.

Shah is scheduled to hold a brief meeting with the civil, police and military officers at Rajouri before returning to Jammu where he is likely to review the whole security scenario with the security, intelligence and Police agencies in the wake of certain terror incidents in Jammu region in the last few months. He is scheduled to return to New Delhi in the evening.

Sources said that the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was expected to visit Rajouri, including some forward positions on the Line of Control (LoC), after the Republic Day of 26 January but definitely before the month-end. He would be accompanied by the Army chief Gen. Manoj Pande, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command and GOC of White Knight Corps (16 Corps).

Sources said that Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha would be accompanying both the Union Ministers. Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Lok Sabha member from Jammu’s Kathua-Doda-Udhamur, Dr Jitendra Singh, is expected to join Rajnath Singh on his day-long visit.

The Army Chief was on a visit of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, on the LoC in Kupwara district, when the terrorists, believed to be the cadres of a Pakistan-based jihadist group, attacked a hamlet of the Hindus at Dhangri and caused seven fatal casualties. Even as proactive operations by the security forces, as well as the planned and the chance encounters, have been going on intermittently, it was after a long pause that terrorists chose to execute a targeted attack on the Hindu community in the Jammu province.

The two Union Ministers’ visits to Rajouri have been scheduled after their meetings with senior BJP leaders from Jammu in New Delhi early this week.

A series of measures have already been taken by the UT administration to check the terror attacks with revival of Village Defence Groups (VDGs), creation of more VDGs, equipping them with sophisticated Self Loading Rifles (SLRs), creation of pickets in minority areas and joint patrolling in sensitive villages. Twenty companies of CRPF, comprising nearly 2,000 personnel, have been deployed for area protection of the minority villages after the Dhangri attack in addition to the paramilitary and Army troops already present in Rajouri and Poonch districts.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh accompanied by Army chief Gen Manoj Pande will also visit the border district of Rajouri including scene of January 1 militant carnage at Dhangri after January 26 for on spot review of the situation and fresh measures required to curb the militancy and coordinate search operations by the troops, wherever necessary.

Troops have also intensified surveillance all along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts and they have scuttled two major infiltration attempts at Karmara and Balakote in Poonch, killing two Pakistani militants. A huge quantity of arms and ammunition was also recovered.

Rajouri, the home district of the J&K BJP President Ravinder Raina, on the LoC, is the J&K UT’s only district frequently visited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah after abrogation of Article 370 and withdrawal of the erstwhile State’s statehood and special status in August 2019.

While Prime Minister Modi visited Rajouri twice—in October 2019 and November 2021—both times to celebrate Diwali with troops, Home Minister Shah addressed a massive congregation at the same district headquarters on 5 October 2022. On Friday, Shah would be holding his 3rd visit to J&K, after October 2021 and October 2022. It will be his second consecutive visit to Rajouri in the last 3 months.

When Shah chose Rajouri to announce reservation in government jobs and scholarships to the Pahari and some other backward communities on 5 October 2022, it was the first ever public meeting of a Union Home Minister in the Pir Panjal mountain range of J&K in the last over 30 years. In 1991, then Union Home Minister Shankar Rao Chauhan had addressed a rally at Mendhar, Poonch.

Also Read: J&K villagers to get automatic rifles, Amit Shah meets BJP leaders over Jammu terror attacks