Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday condemned the killing of a tourist from Tamil Nadu in an incident of stone throwing at Narbal on the Srinagar-Gulmarg road in Jammu and Kashmir, terming it ‘unfortunate”.
Talking to reporter after an inaugural session of Naval Commanders’ Conference here, Ms Sitharaman said, “I’m sure the Chief Minister is herself keen on getting more tourists to Kashmir because that will also help in restoring normalcy. So if that is being the stated desire for a stone pelting incident to have hurt and killed a tourist, it certainly is not a conducive to the very rightful suggestion of the Chief Minister.”
On spike in terror activities in the valley, the Minister said the government will firmly deal with the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I think we need to understand the issue which is very sensitive with a great deal of nuances. You can’t hold the armed forces responsible for being firm with the terror. We need to be firm with the terror,” she said.
Further, Ms Sitharaman added, “We need to have free and safe movement of the tourists so that normalcy can be restored. And what happened is absolutely unfortunate and it cannot be accommodated for the tourist to be killed. It is completely condemnable.”
On being asked about any change in Beijing’s approach towards New Delhi after a 3-high-profile visits to China that include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and herself, she said, “We are talking, we are meeting each other. That’s a big change.”
On gender parity in the armed forces, the Minister said, “A comprehensive discussion has been held in the ministry. I’m working with the Army, Navy and Air Force to have a synchronised position on the recruitment of women into the three services. Since the matter is in court, it would not be better to speak more on it.”