Govt Shifts Over 15,000 Soldiers Out Of J&K

7 December 2009
India Today
Arjun Sharma

Jammu: Nearly 15,000 troops of the 39 Mountain Division posted in the militant- infested districts of Rajouri and Poonch have returned to their base in Himachal Pradesh. The division was moved to Jammu and Kashmir ( J& K) for counter- insurgency operations in 1994 and was posted in Rajouri and Poonch, where scores of infiltration bids have taken place in the recent past. In 1996, the division was moved back to their base in Palampur. But during ' Operation Parakram' in 2001 launched after the attack on Parliament, it was again deployed along the Line of Control in Rajouri and Poonch. Highly placed sources in the army said 15,000 troops of the division had been completely withdrawn from J& K. The process of shifting started in August- end and complete withdrawal of the division was done by November. To a question, General Officer Commanding ( GOC) 9 Corps Lt. Gen. G. M. Nair had told reporters at Yole Corps headquarters in Himachal Pradesh on September 1 that the process of shifting the division had already started. The shifting of the troops comes close on the heels of the Centre talking of holding talks with separatist leaders. The opposition People's Democratic Party ( PDP) has been demanding since long that troops be reduced from the state and the stage be set for talks with separatist groups. The 39 Mountain Division played an important role during ' Operation Sarp Vinash', which was launched to eliminate militants hiding in the Hill Kaka mountains of Rajouri in 2003. A large number of terrorists were killed by the security forces during that operation and arms and ammunition recovered from forest areas. Troops of the division have also foiled a large number of infiltration bids by terrorists backed by Pakistani rangers. Recently, some battalions of the CRPF were also moved out of Kashmir Valley, giving a positive signal to separatist groups. The shifting comes a year after the Centre moved the Naria Rajouri- based 27 Mountain Division out of the state. With PTI inputs