India says it plans to phase out troops deployed in counter-insurgency
operations in parts of India-controlled Kashmir, leaving them to battle
insurgents in border areas. India's home minister reviewed security
during a two day visit to the restive region, where tens of thousands
of troops have been battling a Muslim separatist insurgency for two
On his first visit to the troubled Kashmir region
since a new government took office in New Delhi, Home Minister P.
Chidambaram, says the government wants to "redraw lines of
responsibility" between the army and local police.
He told a
news conference Friday in Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar, that the
army will "guard the borders," and counter terrorism in areas "far away
from towns and cities." He said the government wants to make the local
police responsible for internal security.
state police is the principal instrument for maintaining public order,
law and order, and also in fighting militancy. The army of course will
continue to discharge its responsibilities on the border, and along the
border. The paramilitary forces are intended to aid and assist the
state police," he said.
The home minister
offered no timeline for moving troops out of urban areas, but said the
government is considering diminishing the troop presence because
militant violence in Kashmir has declined.
The heavy presence of
troops in Kashmir is deeply resented by residents in the Kashmir
valley, who often accuse security forces of widespread human rights
violations, and want them pulled out of the region.
Minister Chidambaram's visit to the valley followed massive street
protests that virtually shut down the region for more than a week. The
protests were triggered by allegations that two young women were raped
and murdered by security forces. The home minister promised to punish
Chidambaram also promised to review a law that gives sweeping powers to security forces in the state.
will carefully go into all aspects of the matter, and I will discuss
the matter with the defense minister, the prime minister, and we will
move on that road, in fact we have agreed to move on that road," he said.
in New Delhi army chief Deepak Kapoor said any reduction of troops in
Kashmir will be difficult in the coming months because of the danger
that Muslim militants could cross over from Pakistani territory into
"The snows are now melting, the passes are going to be open, the chances of infiltration are very much there," he said.
of thousands of troops have been deployed in Kashmir since a Muslim
separatist insurgency erupted in 1989. However levels of violence have
dropped dramatically after India and Pakistan initiated a peace process
in 2004 and a cease-fire came into effect along the tense Kashmir
border. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by