Govt seeks 50 police bns to replace para-military1 January 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: In a major decision aimed at phased removal of para-military and security personnel from Jammu and Kashmir, the State Government has taken up the issue with the Union Home Ministry for raising of 50 more police battalions for deployment in militancy and other trouble prone areas of the State to maintain law and order after withdrawal of the troopers. 'In first phase, the Government has asked for sanction for raising five police battalions comprising 5000 police personnel. However, as a long term measure, the State has sought creation of a total of 50 police battalions to gradually replace para-military and security personnel with the police force’’, official sources told the Excelsior. They said the issue for raising of new battalions has been taken up with the Union Home Ministry by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who also holds the portfolio of Home Department, on the ground that the Centre (the Home Ministry) would have to bear the entire cost factor on setting up of new battalions as they had to replace the para-military personnel, whose expenditure is borne by the Central Government. The Union Home Ministry has been very positive on the issue of raising new battalions, sources said, adding that the State Government was awaiting formal response of the Centre before going ahead with raising of five battalions of police. 'The Government has put a rider before the Union Home Ministry on raising of battalions. It wants that since the police battalions would free the para-military personnel, which have been deployed in militancy-infested areas, the entire expenditure of the battalions should be borne by the Union Home Ministry as a Security Related Expenditure (SRE)’’, sources said. They added that the Government has proposed creation of a total of 50 police battalions as replacement of para-military personnel across the State especially in the areas invested by militancy and violence prone belts, where they have been deployed. However, the Government has asked for only five battalions in first phase on an experimental basis, sources said, adding that if the experiment of replacement of para-military forces with police succeeded, the Government would go for creation of 50 battalions to fully replace the para-military personnel in the State. 'Gradually, the Government wanted to remove para-military personnel from all parts of the State. However, the creation of 50 battalions, when approved, would take a long time and, therefore, the State has, in the first phase, asked for raising five battalions only’’, sources said, expressing confidence that the Union Home Ministry would agree to the State Government proposal. Sources said the Union Home Ministry has been told that situation the newly created police personnel would be facing in place of CRPF jawans after their proposed replacement has been contributed totally by the 'external factors’’ and therefore, it was the task of the Central Government to bear the cost factor of police battalions including their salary and infrastructure. According to sources, the creation of new police battalions (five in the first phase and 50 gradually) would serve twin purpose for the State. First, it would generate huge employment for the youth and Second, it would lead to phased withdrawal of para-military personnel from the State. Creation of one police battalion would give employment to 1000 youth, sources pointed out. 'Since the entire cost of para-military personnel, deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, is borne by the Union Home Ministry, there should be no problem for them to include cost factor of new police battalions in the SRE as new battalions would spare a large number of para-military forces, which could be deployed in other States by the Central Government’’, they said. Out of every five police battalions proposed, there would be one commando battalion trained to deal with militancy or other kind of difficult situation. The women and Special Police Officers (SPOs) would also be given due share in the new battalions, sources said. It may be mentioned here that some para-military personnel including bunkers in Srinagar City have already been withdrawn after return of normalcy. The State Government felt that militancy has died down to quite an extent in the State. 'Whatever militancy has been left can be dealt with by the police personnel. Moreover, there would be some commandos in the police battalions, who would be equally effective in dealing with any kind of situation’’, sources said. They added that the proposal for raising of new battalions is being effectively pursued by the State Government with the Union Home Ministry and was expected to be matured shortly. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has himself taken up the proposal with the Home Ministry. 'Once the proposal gets through, the process for recruitment of battalions would be set in motion’’, sources said.