SRINAGAR: The planned phased withdrawal of the Army from certain areas of the Jammu region has been put on hold “indefinitely” due to cross-border terrorist attacks, officials announced.
The government had intended to reduce the presence of Rashtriya Rifles, an Army counter-insurgency force, in the Jammu region and transfer security responsibilities to the Jammu and Kashmir Police and paramilitary forces.
The Jammu region houses three Counter-Insurgent Forces (CIF) – Delta Force (Doda region), Romeo Force (Rajouri and Poonch areas), and Uniform Force (Udhampur and Banihal areas).
Some Army units had planned to gradually hand over security and law enforcement to local police and paramilitary units in the South of Pir Panjal (Jammu region). However, considering the current situation and recent terrorist killings, the proposal has been indefinitely postponed.
The Jammu region has witnessed 17 militant-related killings, including 10 Army personnel and 7 civilians in Dhangri village of Rajouri. Five civilians were fatally shot on January 1, and two minors died from an IED explosion the next day, left behind by fleeing militants.
On April 20, militants ambushed Army personnel distributing ‘Iftar’ material in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district, killing five soldiers. Additionally, five Para commandos lost their lives, and a Major-rank officer were injured in a May 5 IED blast in Kandi forest, Rajouri.
The proposal to withdraw the Army from the hinterland was under discussion, and a final recommendation was expected at the Unified Headquarters (UHQ), led by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha. The UHQ comprises high-ranking representatives from the Army, police, and paramilitary forces.