Troop Cutback Eyed In Kashmir

12 June 2009
The Washington Times

Srinagar: As violence ebbs in Kashmir, India is planning to withdraw some troops from towns across the disputed Himalayan region, the country's minister for home affairs said Friday. Kashmir is a core issue between rivals India and Pakistan, and tens of thousands of people have been killed in the mainly Muslim region since a rebellion against Indian rule broke out there in 1989. A partial withdrawal would mark the first troop reduction in the region's urban areas since separatists started their campaign 20 years ago. Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram did not give a time frame for any withdrawal. He said responsibility for maintaining law and order in towns and cities would be handed to local police. There are an estimated 500,000 Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir, more than 40 percent of the army. The move to reduce troop numbers comes after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said this week he was ready to meet Pakistan 'more than halfway' if Pakistan cracked down on militants. Islamabad welcomed Mr. Singh's comments.