Indian Army relocating troops from Kashmir frontier

New Delhi(IANS) : The Indian Army is relocating some 15,000 troops deployed on the frontier with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir but there will be no reduction in forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations in the state, an officer said Thursday.

“It should be clearly understood that these troops were engaged on border guarding duties and not in a counter-insurgency role. To that extent, there is no reduction in troop levels in the state,” the officer told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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The relocation of the 27 Mountain Division to its original base at Kalimpong in West Bengal comes amidst heightened tensions on the China-Bhutan border, where the officer said Chinese troops destroyed two bunkers that Beijing claims were constructed on its territory.

There were indications, he added, that the Chinese were eyeing a move into the Dolam plateau in Bhutan that lies near the tri-junction of China, Bhutan and the Indian state of Sikkim.

The Chinese move would bring them closer to the strategically important Siliguri corridor in north Bengal, the officer said, hastening to add that there “was no immediate cause for alarm”.

“The redeployment (of the division) is only a precautionary move. We have various mechanisms to deal with such issues,” he maintained.

The division was moved to Kashmir in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan. While its headquarters were located near the state’s winter capital of Jammu, its troops were deployed at various places along the Line of Control (LoC).

With the threat perception from Pakistan having reduced due to the uncertain political conditions in the country, the army headquarters had taken the view that the troops would be better deployed at their original location, the officer said.

“In any case, the troops can be quickly moved back (to Kashmir) if the situation so warrants,” the officer added.