Mufti Touch, Funds Halt RR Expansion Plan
11 August 2003
The Indian Express
New Delhi: The Army's ambitious plans to raise more Rashtriya Rifles (RR) battalions in Jammu and Kashmir has run into a wall of fiscal discipline and the Centre's efforts to back Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. It is understood that the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG), set up to monitor security-related recommendations by the Group of Ministers (GoM), has decided to hold back raising more RR battalions, in favour of additional paramilitary units. North Block sources point to the deft political moves by the Centre to give Sayeed a greater say in security issues and fiscal discipline as the cause. An official statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) states: 'The break up of sanctions among different forces was decided in keeping in view the long-term requirements as also the nature of the force.' While discussions were held by officials of Defence and Home ministries, it was decided not to raise six more RR battalions this year as has been the case for the past three years, since the GoM recommended restructuring of internal security. At the last IMG meeting, North Block officials pointed out to Defence Ministry officials that the RR, raised for J-K, wouldn't have a future when the situation improved in the state. It was also pointed out that more paramilitary units could be relocated once commitments in Kashmir came down. While raising for the past three years has been on schedule, this is the first time that North Block has made such observations. The move reportedly aims to put the CM at ease, who has been seeking a greater say in security-related issues in Kashmir.