India to pull 10,000 troops from IOK

The Indian government plans to withdraw nearly 10,000 paramilitary personnel from Jammu and Kashmir this year as it feels that the state can do with less central forces, Indian Home Secretary G. K. Pillai said. He said that amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) are still on the table and hoped the committee of the Unified Headquarters in the state declares some areas in the state as “not disturbed” to make the controversial law redundant in those parts.

There are more than adequate forces in Kashmir and it can do with less central forces,” Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said. When asked how many personnel are being pulled out from the state, he said in 2009, the centre pulled out 10 battalions (10,000 men) from the state. Last year, it did not take out any because of the agitation from June to September. “I think this year, we can easily take out 10 battalions if not more. Irrespective of the situation, I can take out 10 battalions and it would not have any impact. “We have about 70 battalions in Kashmir and we have 62 battalions in seven Left-wing affected states which are big states…. I think if I can take out, I will try to pull out as many as I can,” he said.

On the amendments on AFSPA, whose withdrawal has been demanded by the state, he said this is an issue which has to be decided politically. “But OK, even if it is not done I think you can move forward and say some parts of Kashmir need not be declared disturbed,” he said. Pillai said that if there was no change being made in the AFSPA than the area can be denotified (as disturbed) and the law will not be applicable there. The Home Secretary allayed fears that violence may return in the Kashmir Valley, saying several major steps have been taken post-September last year. He said the Centre is planning to hold seminars in remote areas of the state with a team of 100 officers of the Centre along with state government officers listening to the problems of local Kashmiris. – Daily Mail News