India To Maintain Troop Levels On Kashmir Border With Pakistan
25 June 2007
Srinagar: India said it will maintain troop levels along the frontier of Jammu and Kashmir state to prevent cross-border attacks by Pakistan-based insurgents, after an increase in rebel activity earlier this year. 'The continuing infiltration is a concern to us,' Defense Minister A.K. Antony said in New Delhi yesterday, state-run Doordarshan reported. 'The army is alert. It is always prepared to meet any eventuality.' Soldiers killed eight armed insurgents two days ago as they tried to cross the frontier dividing the Himalayan region, Doordarshan said. Rebels made 82 attempts to cross the frontier in April, more than three times the number in April 2006, according to the report. An 18-year insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, has killed about 50,000 people. The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1947 and is claimed in full by both. Pakistan denies Indian allegations it provides support for separatists fighting in Jammu and Kashmir. Forty militants have been killed this month, 14 of them as they tried to cross the frontier, Doordarshan reported, without saying where it obtained the information. Sixty-four attempts were made to cross the frontier in May, about the same as last year, and 41 militants were killed, according to the report. Peace Talks India has held peace talks with some Kashmiri separatist groups who oppose the violence. The Hizbul Mujahedin rebel group two days ago rejected calls for it to disarm, Agence France- Presse reported. 'The gun only can lead to the resolution of the Kashmir issue,' AFP cited Gazi Misbaudin, Hizbul's chief commander of operations, as saying. 'We will never accept India's condition to shun the gun and join the dialogue process.' Control of Kashmir triggered two of the three wars the nuclear-armed South Asian nations fought since 1947. The two countries began a process to improve relations in 2003 and in January 2004 President Pervez Musharraf pledged not to let Pakistani territory be used by terrorists to attack India. Pakistan is prepared to give up its claim to Kashmir if India reciprocates and approves self-governance for the territory, Musharraf said in a speech last December. His plan includes maintaining Kashmir's borders, withdrawing troops and creating a mechanism for running the territory between India, Pakistan and Kashmir.