soldiering on, or time to go home?

2520

Soldiering on, or time to go home?

As per some senior sources from the Ministry of
Defence, owing to the new-found peace in some areas of
Jammu & Kashmir, the presence of the Army may soon be minimised there, discovers Kashmir Central

By Bisma Nazir

NOW we could be staring into a path-breaking step here!

The Government of India is mulling over minimizing the
presence of the Army in the south of Pirpanjal in Poonch and Rajouri districts and the north of Srinagar in Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts. Yes. Kashmir Central has learned from credible sources in the Ministry of Defence that the government is seriously
considering gradual withdrawal of the Army from certain pockets in north Kashmir in the Kashmir division and Poonch and Rajouri districts in the Jammu province. The
proposal is at an advanced stage and being discussed at inter-ministerial level.

Some sources in the Defence Ministry have told Kashmir Central that the proposal, though feasible, is under serious discussion, However, a decision can’t be expected very soon because the involvement of all the stakeholders is inevitable. The sources also said that the
withdrawal of the Army is initially proposed in the south of Pirpanjal – that is Poonch, Rajouri and Doda and Kishtiwar districts. The sources confirmed that a series of
inter- ministerial discussion has already taken place on the proposal and there is, by and large, agreement on the fact that given the improvement in the overall security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir, it would be appropriate to minimise the footprints of the Army in
comparatively peaceful areas of Jammu and Kashmir. It is however proposed that the Army shall continue to man the Line Of Control. The sources however, refused to
divulge the details but hinted at withdrawal of the Rashtriya Rifles units which had been on the forefront in counter insurgency operations from some areas of north Kashmir on an experimental basis. “We can withdraw according to the situation and re-deploy if the situation demands – what is the big deal in it!” a senior officer in the Ministry of Defence told this scribe.

He added there was no harm in relocating the Army if the situation demanded. “We have an eagle’s eye and we keep assessing the ground situation on a daily basis. As of
now, it looks reasonable to withdraw a sizeable number of Rashtriya Rifles from certain areas in north Kashmir and the south of Pirpanjal,” he said.

The officer also said that the decision had to be taken in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Jammu and Kashmir government because it shall be a sort of replacement of the Army by the CRPF – which comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs. He added that the decision to this effect could take some time because of the nuances and sensitivities involved. This merits a mention that post the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, the law and order situation in Kashmir valley has improved considerably. The level of violence has come down. It is also interesting to note that since
February 2022, with the renewal of the ceasefire agreement of 2003, the infiltration attempts across the LOC and the international border have also gone down
considerably. The year 2022 witnessed the least number of infiltration in the recent years. On the other hand, the security forces were able to gun down the top terrorist
commanders of almost all the active terrorist organisations in Jammu and Kashmir. The integrated efforts by the Army, paramilitary troops and the Jammu &Kashmir police resulted in elimination of more than150 terrorists during the year 2022.The year 2022 also witnessed the lowest number of recruitments in terrorist camps. The only cause for
concern through the year was the targeted killings of civilians, particularly of a minority community.

But let this be known too that there are credible intelligence inputs that terrorists may try to vitiate the atmosphere in the months of Spring. As the G-20 summit is happening in India and some events are also scheduled for Kashmir, there will be attempts to create some kind of nuisance to destabilize the situation. It is, however, not clear if the decision to withdraw the Army from the north of Kashmir would be taken before or after the G-20 summit.

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