Kashmir Can't Tackle Insurgency Alone: Minister

7 July 2009
Agence France-Presse

New Delhi: Indian Kashmir's chief minister warned Tuesday against any large-scale pull-out of paramilitary forces, saying the police force alone could not cope with the Muslim insurgency in the region. Omar Abdullah's comments came almost a month after New Delhi promised to phase out the presence of large numbers of paramilitary troopers in towns across Muslim-majority Kashmir. The chief minister argued that any major redeployment of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had to be very carefully planned. 'We have over 70 battalions (70,000 personnel) of the CRPF and the state police's strength is not even one-third of that,' the Press Trust of India quoted Abdullah as saying. 'Any rash decision in this aspect can be detrimental to state security,' he said, stressing that the Kashmiri police were 'not immediately ready' to take over anti-insurgency operations. Kashmir in May saw sustained protests sparked by the alleged rape and murder of two Muslim women by soldiers, and Abdullah said his police force was in dire need of training and equipment to handle such situations. New Delhi has not disclosed any timetable for a possible redeployment of troops, or the numbers involved. The insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir has left more than 47,000 people dead by official count since 1989. New Delhi has long accused Pakistan of arming and funding the rebels. Islamabad denies the charge.