Akhnoor (Jammu and Kashmir): A day after Home Secretary G.K.Pillai announced security
forces in Jammu and Kashmir will be reduced by 25 percent, the
Indian Army's commander in the state said it was not the "right
time" to reduce army troops there.
"This is not the right time to reduce troops," Northern Command
chief Lt. Gen. K T Parnaik told media persons Saturday on the
sidelines of an investiture ceremony in this border town, 30 km
north-west of Jammu.
His comments echoed that of Indian Army chief, Gen. V.K.Singh, who
said in New Delhi Friday only that the army could not afford to
reduce its troops in the state where it was guarding the frontiers
and also fighting terrorists.
The troops of the Northern Command, headquartered at Udhampur, 66
km north of Jammu, guard the Line of Control and international
border with Pakistani Kashmir and Pakistan, and Line of Actual
Control with China. The troops also are engaged in
counter-insurgency operations in the state.
Gen. Parnaik also defended the retention of the Armed Forces
Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that grants legal immunity to troops
engaged in anti-terrorism operations. "The Army is doing a job
here (Jammu and Kashmir) and AFSPA is needed. It should not be
withdrawn at the moment."
On the reports of the incursion of the Chinese troops into Ladakh
region, he said: "These are not incursions. There is no clearly
demarcated boundary... the two countries (India and China) should
talk about this."
Speaking at a symposium on 'What is the way forward in Jammu and
Kashmir' organised by the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New
Delhi, Pillai said: "There will be a 25 percent reduction of
security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, especially from populated
areas, in the next 12 months."
The army chief was quick to record his dissent.
"In what context the home ministry has talked of forces reduction,
I will not like to comment. In the future, if they want to reduce
the paramilitary force, I would not like to say anything," Gen.
Singh said at the annual Army Day-eve press conference.
"But, with regard to the army, we have deployed troops after
analysing our requirements on the border and the Line of Control
(with Pakisttan). Similarly, in the interior areas, to maintain
peace and carry out operations against the militants, we have some
troops. As of now, we do not feel we should reduce the numbers,"