Defence Minister AK Antony has said that in the past one year, there has been withdrawal of almost 30,000 Indian Army soldiers from Jammu and Kashmir and if situation betters, more troops will be withdrawn.
“Whenever we feel that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved we have withdrawn troops. Last year, two divisions (30,000 troops) were withdrawn as the situation had improved,” Antony told reporters New Delhi while speaking on the sidelines of a seminar conducted by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies on Internal Security: Duties and obligations in upholding Human Rights.
“Whenever we feel the situation has improved or is improving we will further reduce the visibility and presence of the army in the state… it is because of the presence of the army that we have been able to counter terrorism in the state,” Antony added.
With incidence of violence, both against civilians and security forces, being the lowest in 2009, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is seeking transfer of law and order responsibility to the state police,
In a move aimed at confidence building measure, the Indian Army has begun withdrawing troops from the Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir. The move is expected to get Kashmiri separatists, especially the hardliners, on board for talks.
The twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch were brought under the Disturbed Area Act along with the Kashmir Valley in July 1990 and the security forces were given special powers under Armed Forces Special Powers Act around the same time.
The two districts have a 200-km Line of Control with Pakistan-administered Kashmir.