Not the right time to reduce troops in Kashmir: Army commander

January 15th, 2011 - 6:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Akhnoor (Jammu and Kashmir), Jan 15 (IANS) A day after Home Secretary G.K.Pillai announced security forces in Jammu and Kashmir will be reduced by 25 percent, the Indian Army’s commander in the state said it was not the “right time” to reduce army troops there.”This is not the right time to reduce troops,” Northern Command chief Lt. Gen. K T Parnaik told media persons Saturday on the sidelines of an investiture ceremony in this border town, 30 km north-west of Jammu.

His comments echoed that of Indian Army chief, Gen. V.K.Singh, who said in New Delhi Friday only that the army could not afford to reduce its troops in the state where it was guarding the frontiers and also fighting terrorists.

The troops of the Northern Command, headquartered at Udhampur, 66 km north of Jammu, guard the Line of Control and international border with Pakistani Kashmir and Pakistan, and Line of Actual Control with China. The troops also are engaged in counter-insurgency operations in the state.

Gen. Parnaik also defended the retention of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that grants legal immunity to troops engaged in anti-terrorism operations. “The Army is doing a job here (Jammu and Kashmir) and AFSPA is needed. It should not be withdrawn at the moment.”

On the reports of the incursion of the Chinese troops into Ladakh region, he said: “These are not incursions. There is no clearly demarcated boundary… the two countries (India and China) should talk about this.”

Speaking at a symposium on ‘What is the way forward in Jammu and Kashmir’ organised by the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, Pillai said: “There will be a 25 percent reduction of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, especially from populated areas, in the next 12 months.”

The army chief was quick to record his dissent.

“In what context the home ministry has talked of forces reduction, I will not like to comment. In the future, if they want to reduce the paramilitary force, I would not like to say anything,” Gen. Singh said at the annual Army Day-eve press conference.

“But, with regard to the army, we have deployed troops after analysing our requirements on the border and the Line of Control (with Pakisttan). Similarly, in the interior areas, to maintain peace and carry out operations against the militants, we have some troops. As of now, we do not feel we should reduce the numbers,” Singh added.

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