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India plans troop phase-out from Kashmir towns

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 16, 2009

New Delhi – India plans to withdraw troops from towns in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir state, federal home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said Friday, but he would not give a date. Hundreds of thousands of Indian soldiers and paramilitary troopers are stationed in Muslim-majority Kashmir to man the border with Pakistan and carry out counter-insurgency operations. They have often faced flak with local residents and human rights groups alleging human rights abuse. There have been large-scale protests after two young women were raped and killed on May 30 in the southern Kashmir town of Shopian. Local residents alleged they had been gang-raped by security forces personnel. The police is investigating the case. “It is our intention to redraw the lines of responsibility,” Chidambaram, who is on a two-day visit in Kashmir, said at a press briefing in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir. He said soldiers and paramilitary troopers would continue to be responsible for manning the border and preventing the infiltration of terrorists, while the responsibility of maintaining law and order in towns and cities would rest with the local police. Kashmiri separatist groups have long demanded the withdrawal of Indian troops who have been based in large numbers in Jammu and Kashmir since the late 1980s when violent attacks from the separatist militant movement peaked. More than 45,000 people have died in India-administered Kashmir due to these attacks. The disputed Kashmir region is divided into two parts, one administered by India the other by Pakistan. The neighbours have fought two wars over the disputed region, one in 1965 the other in 1971. India says militants trained and supported by Pakistan regularly infiltrate its part of Kashmir to launch attacks. Pakistan denies the charge and calls the insurgents freedom fighters. Indian Army chief Deepak Kapoor said a reduction of troops in could be considered only after assessing “infiltration trends” in summer months, PTI news agency reported. “The chances of infiltration going up is very much there because a number of (terrorist) camps are there on the other side of the border,” Kapoor said.


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