Plan To Cut Security Forces In J&K

Plan To Cut Security Forces In J&K

14 January 2011
The Hindu
Vinay Kumar

New Delhi: As part of confidence building measures meant to reach out to the people in the State, the government on Friday said it was contemplating a reduction in the strength of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir by nearly 25 per cent. Union Home Secretary G. K. Pillai said that India was planning to unilaterally issue six-month multiple entry permits for people of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) wanting to visit Jammu and Kashmir through the Line of Control (LoC). 'As a confidence building measure in Jammu and Kashmir, the strength of the security forces would come down by 25 per cent. We would like to reduce it as soon as possible depending on the ground situation,' he said while addressing a seminar at Jamia Milia Islamia University in New Delhi. Mr. Pillai said that some forces have already been taken out of Srinagar and 16 bunkers have been removed, adding that it was an ongoing process. He said the deployment of security forces should be of minimum strength in populated areas and management by local police would be ideal. 'If violence is not there, if people are comfortable, we can gradually reduce the strength of security forces and make sure that all forces are only at the border and for preventing infiltration,' he said. The Home Secretary said as part of the confidence building measures, India and Pakistan allow people from Jammu and Kashmir and PoK to visit either side with a permit valid for 15 days. 'We suggested that the people visit their relatives more often. So, we have suggested that if you give 15 days permit they have to go through the verification process. So why don't we give a six-month multiple entry permit. Once verification is done, one can be able to visit relatives whenever he or she wants. Now we are planning to unilaterally give six month multiple entry permits for people of PoK, he added. Mr. Pillai said despite some hiccups in the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan, New Delhi wanted to reach out to the people of the neighbouring country through various ways, including cultural exchange programmes. 'Official level composite dialogue has not taken off the way we would have wanted it to take off. But people-to-people talks are on. We are encouraging musical, cultural programmes, and drama festivals between the two countries. We are encouraging Pakistanis to come here on these grounds, he said. Replying to a question of a Kashmiri student as to why it took four months for the Centre to react to the deaths of students in Jammu Kashmir in last summer, Mr. Pillai admitted that it should not have taken so long but added that 'governance is a huge issue for the Central government'. 'Why can't the State government solve some issues on its own. At every stage the Centre is expected to fill in. You have to empower the people. The government has to be decentralised, has to reach out to people,' he said. Corporate jobs The Centre was also asking corporate India to give jobs to youths of Jammu and Kashmir in different parts of the country. 'We think they can absorb 1,00,000 youths in jobs all over India in the next 12 months,' he said. Lauding the work of the three government-appointed interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Pillai said that their interactions have encouraged people to speak out. Led by eminent journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, the interlocutors, including former Information Commissioner M. M. Ansari and academician Radha Kumar have spoken to hundreds of people and a number of groups since their appointment last year. 'People, who have never been heard, are now speaking,' Mr. Pillai said at the seminar. The Home Secretary said the government was expecting the interlocutors to submit their final report by April-end. 'So far we have received three reports. When their final report comes, we will share it with all political parties, the Union Cabinet and decide on a future course of action,' he said.


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