SRINAGAR: In a move to withdraw the army from the hinterland of Kashmir in a phased manner, a proposal that was doing rounds for more than two years now is reportedly under serious consideration, reports appearing in the media said. The presence of the armed forces is expected to remain confined to the border areas as the paramilitary forces will take care of the hinterland.
The move will be seen as “a visible indication towards the establishment of normalcy and improved security system” in Kashmir after the reading-down of article 370. It is supposed to substantiate the claims that militant violence incidents and overall security scenario have improved over the years.
“Since the August 5, 2019 decisions, violence in the valley has steadily reduced,” an MHA official told The Indian Express. “Stone pelting has almost vanished and the law and order situation is largely under control. However, a large presence of the Indian Army in the hinterland would sit oddly with the claims of normalcy.”
If the plan is approved, the CRPF would be replaced by the army to look into the challenges of law and order.
The report said the army may be withdrawn from the two districts of Anantnag and Kulgam followed by the proper assessment of the after-effects of the move. If all goes well then further steps towards withdrawal would be taken, the report added
Another move could be the removal of Rashtriya Rifles (RR) in three phases and replace the columns with CRPF.
Though the plan is under serious discussion at various ministerial levels, the decision is yet to be taken. The ruling BJP is facing a lot of music from the Jammu and Kashmir political parties over the security situation. While the government is claiming absolute normalcy, the political class has its own reasoning for not endorsing the claim.
The purpose of the ongoing discussions, another report said “is to not only assert but also demonstrate that life is normal in Kashmir”. Another report added: “The idea behind the deliberations is to not just claim normalcy in Kashmir but also make it visible.”
“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 are in charge of carrying out counterterrorism operations in Kashmir’s countryside, which entails 40,000–45,000 soldiers,” Times Now reported on its website. “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.”
The Express report said that RR may not be withdrawn altogether. Instead, it will be resized. Under the plan, each one of 63 RR battalions will have four instead of six companies.