Army Against Reduction Of Troops From Kashmir Valley

25 June 2009

New Delhi: At a time when India’s Home Minister P Chidambaram has assured reduction of troops in the troubled Kashmir Valley, there are reports that the army is against any such move.Since Shopian rape and killing incident of two teenaged girls there are daily protests on streets of Srinagar and other major cities in the state. The protests have often become violent. Despite government action against local police officials, the anger of people is refusing to subside. They are demanding that at least Army and paramilitary forces from urban centres be removed. Home Minister P Chidambaram has assured the state government that he would try to implement the state government demand. In the meantime a report in kashmir’s leading newspaper Kashmir Timees titled “Troop reduction: Centre proposes, army disposes” says that army is against any such move. “Following massive anti-government protests across Kashmir Valley and an intense pressure from the US, Home Ministry is believed to be working on a road map to contemplate thinning down Army presence in Jammu and Kashmir. Though, Army top brass wants to defer any such decision till September, there is possibility of the issue being discussed threadbare at the commanders’ conference…Americans have been asking India privately to respond to Pakistan moving several battalions from its border with India to Afghanistan and for its operations against the Taliban. “Their argument is that Pakistani support is necessary for cleaning up Afghanistan,” sources here said”, the report says.The report goes on to add, “Home Ministry road map includes moving the Army out of major cities, and let the state police or the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) take charge. The arrangement has, however, failed to work in Srinagar city, where the CRPF replaced Border Security Force (BSF) two years ago. In absence of any intelligence wing, the CRPF has been involved in blind operations and excessive human rights abuses”. It further says, “The Army commanders while agreeing that militancy level has come down doesn’t agree with the Home Ministry assessment. They maintain that right time for reduction is when militancy is reduced to zero level on a sustained basis. They believe once Army is withdrawn, it is difficult to re-deploy them if situation goes out of hand. They, however, agree rearranging responsibilities with the state police and the CRPF”.