No withdrawal of security forces from Jammu and Kashmir


Jammu : Despite strong pleas by the political groups in Jammu and Kashmir, there is little likelihood of the thinning of security forces in the state, government sources said.

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The highly-placed sources told IANS that the state cannot risk withdrawing troops at this stage when the chances of militancy reviving are beaming on the radar.

Also, there are reports that the separatists and their sympathisers were preparing for another bout of street protests in the summer of 2011, they said.

“There is no question of taking any chances at this stage; we will have to go by security considerations and not by the political thinking of the groups,” a senior officer who attended a meeting of the union home ministry in New Delhi, told IANS here.

“This year is going to be very crucial. The summer of 2010 and the attacks by militants on the security forces have reinforced our perception that Pakistan and its proteges in Jammu and Kashmir are bent upon continuing with creating trouble across the state,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.

He explained that there are more than 500 active militants across the state and fresh batches of militants are coming from across the border, as indicated by the fresh intrusion bids both at the Line of Control and the international border. This has made the security forces wary of thinning their presence.

“We don’t want a reversal of the situation,” the officer said.

A two-pronged strategy is being adopted. In the first place, the security forces are strengthening their vigil along the borders to check infiltration. This would help in curbing the reinforcement of the militants operating in the state.

Secondly, the state is preparing for a crowd control system. The state police are procuring non-lethal weapons to control the crowds. The summer of 2010 in Kashmir was particularly crucial as more than 110 people, mostly youngsters, died in police firing, the sources pointed out.

“We are going to shift to non-lethal means,” Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda told police officers at a meeting in Jammu last week. “The non-lethal weapons would be an asset.”

The police and paramilitary forces will be dealing with possible street protests, while the army will be taking on militants in the hinterland.

According to a senior government official, “In the given situation, security forces are required in substantive numbers and any reduction will have serious repercussions.”

All the Kashmir-centric political groups, including the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, have been asking for reducing the presence of the security forces. They claim that the situation has improved over the years and the strength of the deployed troops needed to be cut down.

There had been a reduction of 30,000 troops in Jammu and Kashmir in 2009, but the security forces now have warned against any further tampering with their number in the state.