Army chief rules out military cut in Kashmir

January 14th, 2011 - 8:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh Friday said there was no need to reduce the number of military personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, taking a cautious view on Home Secretary G.K. Pillai’s announcement of 25 percent cut in security forces in parts of Jammu and Kashmir.”In what context the home ministry has talked of forces reduction, I will not like to make any comment. In the future, if they want to reduce the paramilitary or police force, I would not like to say anything,” the army chief said.

He said as far as the number of armed forces personnel was concerned, there was no need to reduce their presence.

“With regard to the army, we have deployed troops after analysing our requirements on the border and the Line of Control (with Pakistan). Similarly, in the interior areas, to maintain peace and to carry out operations against militants, we have some troops. As of now, we do not feel we should reduce the numbers,” Singh told reporters at his annual media conference here.

Jammu and Kashmir, fighting a 20-year-old separatist campaign, has a security grid of involving the army, police forces and paramilitary. The grid is governed by a unified command led by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Home Secretary Pillai told a seminar here that there will be a 25 percent cut in security forces in Jammu and Kashmir in the next 12 months, especially from populated areas to ensure people did not feel harassed by the over-presence of security forces.

The government doesn’t give the number of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, but according to unofficial estimates the army has nearly one-fourth of its 1.13 million troops in the state for both guarding the borders and for anti-insurgency operations in the hinterland.

On the question of dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that gives legal impunity to the troops involved in anti-insurgency operations, Singh said he would not like to elaborate on the army’s stand on the subject, as it is widely known.

The armed forces have opposed either partial withdrawal or amendments to the AFSPA, saying the troops needed legal protection when they have been called to control insurgency in aid of the civil administration in the border state.

“There has been a lot of debate on AFSPA. The matter (dilution of powers) is before the cabinet. You all know the armed forces stand on the issue and I would not like to say anything beyond this,” the army chief said.

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