India to Use Force if Pakistan Militants Enter Kashmir
NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ India said today its border troops will use force if necessary to push back Pakistani militants who plan to storm the border next week and march into Kashmir.
The march, set for Tuesday, has strained the already tense relations between India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over Kashmir in 1948 and 1965. The region is divided into sectors controlled by the two countries.
India is determined to ″resist with appropriate firmness any efforts to infringe the country’s sovereignty or to violate the country’s borders,″ a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aftab Seth, said. He said the army commanders at the border would decide what force was needed to repel the marchers.
″This is a dangerous situation. It could lead to dangerous consequences that India does not want,″ Seth told reporters.
He said the ambassadors of Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain today expressed concern over the proposed march and also urged India to ensure that ″no disproportionate force is used against the demonstrators.″
Pakistan’s government has said it does not support the proposed march by the Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front, a Pakistan-based guerrilla group fighting for Jammu-Kashmir’s independence from India.
Several other rebel groups also are fighting an almost daily battle with Indian security forces in Kashmir. More than 3,700 people have been killed since January 1990 when the insurgency flared up.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels. Pakistan says it morally supports the secession but denies arming the rebels - even though several guerrilla groups have acknowledged this in published interviews.
Seth said Foreign Secretary J.N. Dixit, the ministry’s top civil servant, met Thursday with the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to express concern over Pakistan’s role in Kashmir.
Jammu-Kashmir is India’s only Muslim majority state, with 65 percent of its 6 million people following Islam. Nationwide, Muslims comprise 12 percent of India’s 844 million people. Hindus account for 82 percent.