Scope To Cut Troops In Kashmir: NSA5 January 2010
The Indian Express
New Delhi: In the backdrop of reduced incidents of violence in Jammu & Kashmir, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan has indicated that there is a possibility of further reducing military presence in the state. “If the situation continues to improve, which is apparent at the moment, there is scope for further reduction of troops,” Narayanan told The Indian Express when asked about whether the government plans to review Army deployment in Jammu & Kashmir. Both Defence Minister A K Antony and Home Minister P Chidambaram have recently underlined the “significant reduction” in troop levels over past few years. The Army has withdrawn 30,000 troops while the Home Ministry has also rationalized paramilitary presence in the state over the past couple of years. Top government sources explained that there has been gradual “thinning” of troop levels in J&K and the improved situation right now could lead to further reduction but at the same there is an “irreducible minimum” number of troops that will have to remain deployed there. The fresh move to consider bringing down force levels in the state has been prompted by a 25 per cent reduction in violence last year compared to 2008. Further, security agencies have assessed that while there has been an increase in infiltration, the overall capabilities of militant outfits has diminished in the past year. Specifically, sources pointed out, there were no fidayeen attacks in 2009 compared to two in the previous year. At the same time, security agencies are clear that the guard cannot be drastically lowered because Pakistani militants who were caught recently have confirmed that training camps continue to operate on known sites across the Line of Control. In terms of troop reduction, sources said, the number of paramilitary forces is adequate and also needed to assist the J&K police. They also operate under state police authorities. So any further reduction would have to be from Army troops and for this necessary review is being undertaken. It’s learnt that much of these decisions have been left to the operational commands with the political leadership keeping away from getting involved with exact numbers. However, efforts to have a quiet dialogue with all stakeholders including separatist leaders besides the decision of keeping the Army out of urban areas are all part of larger approach of building confidence in the Valley.