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TSD had ‘tapped’ J&K CM’s phones,his govt says it found out

Ruling National Conference calls for CBI,judicial probe,wants minister Mir dropped.

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | New Delhi | Published: September 21, 2013 2:48:17 am

The Army’s Technical Services Division (TSD) had allegedly tapped the phones of J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and of his colleagues in the Cabinet during the protracted faceoff in 2011 between the government and the Army over the Armed Forces Special Powers Act,sources close to the chief minister have told The Indian Express.

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These sources said that the snooping was first picked up by the J&K Police in Jammu,and the chief minister was subsequently informed. Sources said it was a DIG-level officer of the J&K Police who apprised his senior officers about alleged surveillance activity being carried out from the Sunjwan camp in Jammu and a private house rented by the TSD in a housing colony at Channi Himmat in Jammu.

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A police team was deployed to cross-check,and it came back with the confirmation,the DIG-level officer told The Indian Express on the condition that he not be named. Sources said the snooping was also confirmed to the chief minister later by a senior Army officer.

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In October 2011,the then National Conference spokesman and Omar Abdullah’s uncle Mustafa Kamal accused the Army of carrying out attacks — two grenade attacks had targeted police and paramilitary forces in Srinagar,a grenade had been lobbed in Shopian — “to stall revocation of AFSPA”. Although Kamal retracted the statement,the NC leadership was convinced that efforts were being made to destabilise the government.

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The strained relationship between the Army and the state government peaked in November 2011 when the 15 Corps commander gave an hour-long presentation to J&K’s top security grid Unified Headquarters chaired by the Chief Minister where he said that the country will be forced to give “independence” to the state by 2016 if the government lifts AFSPA.

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In the presentation,the army told Abdullah that while people are demanding electricity,roads,water and other basic facilities,withdrawing AFSPA and thus curtailing the role of the Army in J&K are demands put forth by Pakistan,ISI,separatists and terrorists. “It was a 70-minute presentation and the Chief Minister asked us where did he fit in this matrix of four. This showed how deep were the differences in perception,” said a senior Army officer who was privy to the meeting.

Meawnhile,reacting to the report in The Indian Express today,the ruling National Conference asked for the resignation of Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir who has been accused of accepting a payoff from the TSD to “destabilise” the state government.

“We had apprehensions about Mir,today The Indian Express report has confirmed it. He (Mir) should step down as Agriculture Minister and probe should be announced against him,’’ senior NC leader Mustafa Kamal said.

Said Kamal,brother of Union Minister Farooq Abdullah: “It is very unfortunate that Army officials are trying to destabilize democratic institutions by using their agents. It is an attempt to steal the democratic mandate of the people of the state.’’

“The issue of destabilizing the current government is of a very serious matter and can’t be brushed aside or dismissed,” National Conference provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani said.

Wani said this issue needs a thorough probe and no attempt should be made to cover up this issue. “We demand a judicial probe under a sitting judge of the Supreme Court or at the least by the CBI. The finding of this must be made public without any delay and we demand that all people from the state or outside who are involved overtly or covertly should face action as per the law,” he said.

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