Government is considering a phased Army pullout from the Valley hinterland

Army pullout from the Valley hinterland

A PROPOSAL to totally withdraw the Indian Army from the hinterlands of the Valley is currently being discussed by the Union government, which abolished the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir amid the deployment of significant additional troops three and a half years ago.

The Army will only be present along the Line of Control if approved (LoC).

According to representatives of the security establishment, the proposal to remove the Army from the hinterland of Kashmir has been discussed for about two years and is currently in a "advanced stage" with the participation of the J&K police, the Union Ministry of Defence, and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. The idea is that the CRPF will step in to replace the army men who were evacuated from It is believed to be realistic and is currently the subject of significant discussion at the inter-ministerial level. Valley to address the difficulties of both law and order and counter-terror operations. In a sense, the choice has already been made; the question now is when it will be carried out. Nonetheless, the decision would ultimately be made at the political level, a top security establishment officer told the media.

The CRPF, J&K Police, and the Army did not return texts or phone calls as of the time of publication.

In all of J&K, the Army maintains a strength of about 1.3 lakh people, of whom about 80,000 are stationed on the border, according to officials. The Rashtriya Rifles' 40,000–45,000 members are in charge of conducting operations against terrorism in the interior of Kashmir.

Over 60,000 CRPF members are reportedly on duty in J&K, more than 45,000 of whom are stationed in the Kashmir Valley. The J&K Police has 83,000 members. A few companies from different Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are still stationed in the Valley aside from this. The number of CAPFs varies according on the Valley's security situation.

The purpose of the discussions is to not only assert but also demonstrate that life is normal in Kashmir. According to the authorities, since August 5, 2019, compared to the prior period, terrorist violent occurrences and the killing of security personnel in J&K have decreased by over 50%. ' With the decisions made on August 5, 2019, violence in the Valley has gradually shrunk. The situation with law and order is mostly under control, and stone-pelting has almost completely disappeared. But, a sizable presence of the Indian Army in the hinterland would be inconsistent with assertions of normalcy, according to a representative of the Union home ministry.

A total Army pullout has been advocated for by J&K political parties and various government branches. With many government officials convincing the political leadership that the assertions of normalcy may be followed by action, such as the phased withdrawal of the Army from the Valley's districts, this has gained steam in recent months.

Another government official stated that the ideal scenario, as agreed throughout the discussions, would be to transfer the responsibility for counterterrorism operations to the Jammu and Kashmir Police's hinterland.

The Union Territory police force is currently not thought to be fully equipped and capable of taking the role of the Army on its own, nevertheless. In order to replace the Army after it is removed, J&K Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) would be used. Over the years, they have also proven their capability in Srinagar without the assistance of the Army. The specifics, like how many additional CRPF members would be needed for this and how the overall command structure would operate, are still being worked out, the official added.

According to sources in the security sector, it was suggested during the meetings that the Army gradual withdrawal of the action. 'Maybe the Army can be removed from a few districts, like Anantnag and Kulgam, first. After that, the counter-terror situation and the populace's response would be evaluated. Based on the outcomes, additional actions in the direction of more withdrawals would be implemented. That's how it was done in the middle of the 2000s when the Border Security Force (BSF) was removed from rural Kashmir, according to another officer.

According to the person, one suggestion being studied is to gradually phase out the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) of the Indian Army and replace them with the CRPF. According to the official, the RR, which was established in 1990 with a goal to carry out counterterrorism operations in the Valley hinterland, never had a permanent mandate. Another individual who was informed of the nature of the conversations stated that as of right now, the Army is just discussing reducing the strength rather than doing away with RR entirely. Defense sources claim that the Army is already preparing to downsize.

"They (RR) belong to a number of infantry units." You are draining the Army troops by keeping them on internal security responsibilities for such extended periods of time. The army is designed for strategic engagements. RR has performed admirably in the Valley. But the moment has come to return it to its primary responsibilities, the official said.

Defence sources claimed that the Army is already at work enlarging the Rashtriya Rifles. The 63 RR battalions will each have two companies (Each RR currently has six firms.) Even though the drawdown plan has not yet been finalised, it is being explored if one force headquarters (out of a total of five) and a few sector headquarters (out of a total of 15) of RR can also be decreased. This might total more than 15,000 soldiers.

The CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police assist the Indian Army in its counterterrorism operations in the Kashmir Valley. Through the inception of the Rashtriya Rifles in 1990, the Army has played a key role in preventing infiltration at the border as well as terror acts and the death of terrorists inside Kashmir since the start of insurgency in the Valley. Up until 2004–2005, it did this with the BSF and the J&K Police has been supported ever since by the local police and CRPF. Additionally, since 2005, the CRPF and J&K Police have conducted all counterterrorism operations in Srinagar, with the RR being excluded.

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