Army to remain in Srinagar till necessary: Pallam Raju

     Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju on Wednesday said the Army would remain on the streets in Srinagar assisting the state administration in maintaining law and order till it was necessary. "Army steps in only when things go out of control. It is not a situation the Army would like to be in. But whenever it is necessary and in the interest of the nation, we step in," said Raju. "Army will stay as long as it is necessary. But we would like to make it as short as possible," he added on the sidelines of a CII-sponsored seminar on anti-tank missiles in New Delhi. Pallam Raju further said it became necessary for the Army to stage a flag march in Srinagar at the request of the Jammu and Kashmir Government in view of the ground situation. "The moment the situation is under control, everything will return to normal," he claimed. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, called for a Cabinet Committee on Security meeting today to assess situation in Kashmir. The meeting will decide on the mandate for the army, which has been called into the Valley to assist the state administration in maintaining law and order as all major towns of the Kashmir Valley continue to remain under curfew. The meeting reportedly will also look into the deployment of the Army in Kashmir. The meeting is being attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Anthony, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Army Chief General VK Singh and Chiefs of the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing. The army was deployed in on Srinagar on Tuesday night following violent protests, which left three persons dead and over 70 injured. Army columns were deployed across the city, following widespread violence in the Batmaloo and Maisuma localities. The decision to deploy the Army was taken after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah made a formal request to the Central Government for its help in enforcing curfew and maintaining law and order in Srinagar. The situation in the valley has been tense over the past few weeks due to repeated clashes between protestors and security forces.

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