December 2003 News

Army to raise TA Bns, units of surrendered militants

22 December 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

NEW DELHI: In a move aimed at ensuring the safety of people living near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir from armed infiltrators, the Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared the Army’s proposal for raising six Territorial Army battalions. The Cabinet also gave the green signal to the raising of a separate Army battalion comprising surrendered militants, labelled in local parleys as ‘Ikhwanis’ to provide them gainful employment and give them means for self-defence. The battalions, to be raised over a period of one year, would draw manpower from the border areas and would be essentially tasked to protect their ‘home and hearth’ on and near the LoC from marauding terrorists, a Defence Ministry spokesman here today said. 'The TA battalions would also be tasked to keep a vigil on the LoC and address environmental concerns', he said. Unlike the majority of TA units who constitute a part time force, the personnel of these battalions would be embodied to TA units outside the states to enable them draw full salary. So far, the surrendered militants, whose figures have dwindled alarmingly from a peak of over 3,500 in 1994-95 to just a few hundred in 2003, have only been given rehabilitation packages in fits and starts. They have been getting only meagre sustenance allowance, but with the ccs clearing the proposal to band them together as well equipped infantry battalions, these surrendered militants will now be eligible for receiving regular salaries as also special allowances for undertaking scouting work in anti-militancy operations. Army sources said of the six TA battalions being raised, four would be based in vulnerable areas of Jammu in Basholi, Brahmana Di Bari, Kishtwar-Bhaderwah and Poonch- Rajouri sector and two in Kashmir valley in Kupwara-Baramulla sector and in district headquarters of Anantnag in south Kashmir. The raising of two battalions to be based at Basholi and Brahmana Di Bari assume significance as both these places straddle the key Jammu-Pathankot highway from where the International Border with Pakistan is just a few kilometres away and which have been a scene of spate of terrorists hits recently. (PTI)


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