Barring LoC, Centre considers withdrawing Army from Jammu and Kashmir
Over three years after revoking the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Union government is reportedly mulling withdrawing the Indian Army from the Kashmir Valley entirely, with the exception of the Line of Control (LoC). The government has been considering a proposal in this matter for nearly two years, which is in an "advanced stage," reported The Indian Express.
Why does this story matter?
- Jammu and Kashmir has been one of the world's most heavily militarized regions for over three decades owing to a separatist insurgency.
- In 2019, the government abrogated Article 370, bifurcating the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
- However, the Valley residents have long demanded the withdrawal of armed forces, which have arbitrary powers in disturbed areas.
CRPF likely to take over counter-terror operations
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is proposed to fill in for the Army, and it will be challenged with maintaining law and order as well as counter-terror operations. The matter is being discussed at the inter-ministerial level and is understood to be feasible, TIE reported. The Defence Ministry, Home Ministry, and the Jammu and Kashmir Police are also involved in the discussions.
1.3 lakh Army personnel across J&K, including 80,000 on border
Around 1.3 lakh Army personnel are posted across J&K, of which 80,000 are deployed on the border. Currently, about 40,000-45,000 Rashtriya Rifles personnel handle counter-terror operations in the Valley's hinterland. Nearly 60,000 CRPF troops are also deployed there while the J&K Police has a strength of 83,000 personnel, apart from the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
Government claims violent incidents reduced by 50% in Valley
The Centre claims incidents of violence in the Valley have declined by around 50% and incidents of stone pelting have almost "vanished" since August 2019, when it abrogated Article 370, stripping the Valley's autonomy to govern itself as a state. However, a large presence of the Army in the Valley doesn't go well with the Centre's claims of normalcy, a Home Ministry official said.
Withdrawal of forces might start from Anantnag, Kulgam
The withdrawal of forces would be done in a phased manner, starting from districts such as Anantnag and Kulgam. The Border Security Force (BSF) was pulled out of Kashmir's hinterland in a similar manner in the mid-2000s. Set up in 1990, the Rashtriya Rifles might be resized and sent back to its core duties instead of being completely removed, as per some sources.