April 2004 News

No reduction in Kashmir troops: Indian army

16 April 2004
The Daily Times

NEW DELHI: The Indian army has no immediate plans to reduce the 500,000 soldiers it deploys in Jammu and Kashmir, but will review the situation in the summer, when militant incursions from Pakistan normally increase, officers said on Friday.Although India and Pakistan are sticking to a cease-fire they declared in November and have ended their daily exchanges of artillery and mortar fire, there will be no relaxing of the guard in the Himalayan region, said Maj Gen Deepak Summanwar.He was briefing journalists after a conference of army commanders.The Pakistani army is fortifying its positions along the Kashmir frontier and rebuilding its bunkers overlooking Indian army positions on the border, an army officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.Pakistan is converting many of its underground bunkers into concrete shelters, taking advantage of the ceasefire, the officer said.There was no immediate response from Pakistan.'We will wait till summer for a decision on reduction of force levels in Jammu and Kashmir,' said Summanwar.In past years, the movement of militants from Pakistan into India has peaked when the weather warms. Such crossings have come down in recent months, Summanwar said. That period includes the winter, when it is difficult to navigate the tough frontier.Summanwar said a fence that India is erecting along the Line of Control is also making it difficult for militants to cross.However, there has been an increase in the number of attacks by militants on government and civilian targets in Kashmir compared to last year, he said. There was a large number of militants already in Jammu and Kashmir before the ceasefire and the winter, he said.'Militant-initiated incidents of violence have increased. There were 77 such attacks in March this year, compared to 65 in March last year,' Summanwar said.


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