Kashmir: Despite strong pleas by the political groups in Jammu and Kashmir, there is little likelihood of the thinning of security forces in the state, government sources said.
The highly-placed sources said that the state cannot risk withdrawing troops at this stage when the chances of militancy reviving are beaming on the radar.
Also, there are reports that the separatists and their sympathizers were preparing for another bout of street protests in the summer of 2011, they said.
â€œThere is no question of taking any chances at this stage; we will have to go by security considerations and not by the political thinking of the groups,â€ a senior officer who attended a meeting of the Home Ministry in New Delhi, said. â€œThis year is going to be very crucial. The summer of 2010 and the attacks by militants on the security forces have reinforced our perception that Pakistan and its protÃ©gÃ©s in Jammu and Kashmir are bent upon continuing with creating trouble across the state,â€ the officer said.
He explained that there are more than 500 active militants across the state and fresh batches of militants are coming from across the border, as indicated by the fresh intrusion bids both at the Line of Control and the international border. This has made the security forces wary of thinning their presence.
â€œWe don’t want a reversal of the situation,â€ the officer said.
A two-pronged strategy is being adopted. In the first place, the security forces are strengthening their vigil along the borders to check infiltration. This would help in curbing the reinforcement of the militants operating in the state.
Secondly, the state is preparing for a crowd control system. The state police are procuring non-lethal weapons to control the crowds. The summer of 2010 in Kashmir was particularly crucial as more than 110 people, mostly youngsters, died in police firing, the sources pointed out.
â€œWe are going to shift to non-lethal means,â€ Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda told police officers at a meeting in Jammu last week. â€œThe non-lethal weapons would be an asset.â€
The police and paramilitary forces will be dealing with possible street protests, while the army will be taking on militants in the hinterland.
According to a government official, â€œIn the given situation, security forces are required in substantive numbers and any reduction will have serious repercussions.â€
All the Kashmir-centric political groups, including the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, have been asking for reducing the presence of the security forces. They claim that the situation has improved over the years and the strength of the deployed troops needed to be cut down.
People’s Democratic Party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said here Sunday that the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue cannot be put into cold storage anymore without risking the future of the region.
Addressing political workers, Sayeed said: â€œThe overwhelming opinion of the people in South Asia is in favor of a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue in order to realize the full development potential of the region.â€
â€œIt was heartening that the latest opinion polls conducted by two major media groups of India (The Times of India) and Pakistan (Jang) reflected an overwhelming sentiment for the resolution of the Kashmir problem,â€ he said. â€œIt was for the governments of India and Pakistan to rise up to the expectations of the people,â€ he said.
â€œThe opinion poll only endorsed what had emerged as part of the changed discourse since the inception of peace process between the two estranged neighbors,â€ he said.
Calling for resumption of the stalled dialogue at the level of foreign ministers, Sayeed said the visit of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to New Delhi and his meeting with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna should be facilitated by the two governments.
He said the interests and stakes of one-and-a-half billion people cannot be held hostage to the routine political developments within the democratic structures of the two countries.