Back to BSF, Centre plays ‘safe’
6 August 2004
The Indian Express
Express News Service
New Delhi: With the CRPF proving ineffective in the handling of counter- insurgency operations in J-K, the Home Ministry has indefinitely put on hold its deployment in the Valley. At an emergency meeting of various security agencies called by Home Minister Shivraj Patil today, the respective heads were asked to prepare a report on how to prevent suicide attacks by militants. Based on the reports, the ministry would formulate a comprehensive strategy for the state, sources said. The meeting came a day after nine CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide attack in Srinagar. This had been preceded by another attack on the CRPF on the banks of the Dal Lake, last week. One of the reasons for putting CRPF deployment on hold was its failure to detect an IED — planted on the Srinagar highway on May 23 — which led to the death of 23 BSF personnel and their family members travelling in a bus, sources said. Reports had indicated that it was a ‘‘human error’’ on part of the CRPF personnel — responsible for scanning for IEDs and mines — on the Road Opening Party (ROP) duty. It was felt that the security forces — especially the CRPF — were still vulnerable to suicide attacks. At the meeting, sources said, it was decided that the CRPF needs more training before they can replace the BSF in the state. They added that the BSF would continue to deal with counter-insurgency operations till further orders, as the force had a larger presence of battalions in J-K. Director General, CRPF, J.K. Sinha was not present to defend his force as he had rushed to Srinagar following the attack. So far, the CRPF had taken over at six places in the Valley from the BSF but now as per the Centre’s latest directive ‘‘The status quo should be maintained.’’ The take-over process had started in November last year and was expected to be completed by July. Among those who attended the meeting were National Security Advisor J.N. Dixit, Special Advisor in the PMO M.K. Narayanan, Home Secretary Dhirendra Singh, Intelligence Bureau Director A.K. Doval, Additional Director General of CRPF S.R. Mehra and Director General, ITBP, Kanwaljit Singh. Representatives from External Affairs Ministry and Army’s Directorate of Military Operations were also present.