Army To Withdraw 15,000 Troops From Rajouri, Poonch

1 September 2009

YOLE CANTONMENT, HP: An Army Division, comprising around 15,000 troops, is being withdrawn from Jammu and Kashmir and some of its units have already returned to its base in Himachal Pradesh, a senior Army officer said today. On withdrawal of 39 Mountain Division from Rajouri and Poonch border districts to its base in Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 9 Corps Lt Gen G M Nair here said, 'This Division is being shifted. Some of its units have already reached its base in HP.' The shifting of the Division from the districts in Jammu and Kashmir comes close on the demand of separatists and opposition PDP to withdraw troops from the State in view of the improved security situation there. 'The entire Division has not been moved fully so far. It will take some time,' the GOC said. 39 Mountain Division was shifted to Rajouri and Poonch districts to assist joint security grid in conducting counter insurgency operations and undertake counter infiltration measures in 1994. However, the Division was later shifted to Palampur. But during the operation Parakaram, it was moved back to Rajouri-Poonch region in Jammu and Kashmir, another senior Army official said. 'It takes nearly six months to shift the entire Division,' he said, adding the process is on. He said Pakistan is building fortifications along the border and more than 50 militants are waiting to infiltrate into Jammu sector from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. 'They (Pakistan) have dug up bunkers and ditches and set up a few observation towers along Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab borders,' Lt Gen Nair said. Nearly 50 to 60 militants from PoK are waiting to sneak into Jammu sector prompting Army to keep a hawk-eye vigil at the borders, he said as the 9 Corps celebrated its fifth anniversary. On security situation along the International Border (IB) with Pakistan and in the areas under 9 Corps spreading from Jammu to Himachal Pradesh, he said no infiltration had taken place in their sector and the situation is stable. Gen Nair said 'for the last some years, enhanced security measures have been taken in an understanding with the Border Security Force (BSF) to foil infiltration bids. 'We have adequate security and counter infiltration mechanism installed along the border with Pakistan,' he said. Referring to spilling over of militancy to bordering Himachal Pradesh, Gen Nair said troops have been deployed in entire Chamba, Bani and Machadi areas and patrolling has been intensified to foil any such design by militants to shift their activities to the State.