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Updated: October 28, 2011 03:43 IST

Figures back case for Army rollback in Kashmir

Praveen Swami
Comment (34)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
In this March 2011 file photo, Army personnel take position during an encounter with militants in Pulwama. The Army says there is a continued threat from across the LoC, which necessitates the Act remaining in place. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
The Hindu In this March 2011 file photo, Army personnel take position during an encounter with militants in Pulwama. The Army says there is a continued threat from across the LoC, which necessitates the Act remaining in place. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

“Insurgency-hit” State safer than many “peaceful” counterparts

Even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's proposal to roll back the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has sparked off a war of words within Jammu and Kashmir's ruling coalition, an investigation by The Hindu has thrown up new evidence that suggests the situation in the State no longer warrants large-scale troop commitments for counter-terrorism operations.

Figures published by the Union government on Thursday show that Jammu and Kashmir residents are significantly less likely to die in a violent crime than their counterparts in many other States — data which lends weight to an incremental movement towards reducing the Army's footprint.

In an interview published on Thursday, State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz lashed out at the Chief Minister, saying the Act would “end only when militancy ends.” Mr. Abdullah hit back, saying his proposals were discussed with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. “There have been discussions on this for months at the highest levels,” Mr. Abdullah told The Hindu.

Chief of the Army Staff General V.K. Singh has been resisting the State government's proposals for withdrawing the Act on a test basis from enclaves in Srinagar and Badgam — areas where the Army has not had an operational presence for years. Fearing the political consequences of overruling the military's assessment, New Delhi has gone slow on the idea despite Mr. Chidambaram's behind-the-scenes urging.

In its annual report for 2010-2011, the Home Ministry records that 69 police and military personnel, 47 civilians and 232 terrorists were killed in the State last year. The 2011 census survey estimates that the State is home to 1,25,48,926 people — which means that terrorism-related fatalities, including those of combatants, stand at 2.77 per 100,000 population.

Figures published in the National Crime Records Bureau annual report for 2010 show the State also had 101 murders not related to terrorism, which number pushes up its total rate to 3.5.

There is a long list of States where residents are considerably more likely to become victims of violent deaths: among them, Arunachal Pradesh, with 6.1; Jharkhand, with 5.5; Mizoram with 4.8; Chhattisgarh, with 4.3; Tripura, with 4.2 per 1,00,000.Jammu and Kashmir's murder rate is near-identical to Bihar's; not significantly higher than Delhi's 3.1 and markedly better than Haryana's 4.1.

India's murder rates, interestingly, are significantly lower than the United States. In 2009, the District of Columbia, which houses the capital, registered 18.84 firearms-related deaths per 100,000 population alone, followed by Louisiana with 12.2 and Alabama with 11.4.

“The Jammu and Kashmir police,” says S.M. Sahai, Inspector-General for the Kashmir zone, “is more than capable of dealing with the challenge of terrorism at its current levels.”

The levels of violence have seen a steady decline since 2001-2002, when India and Pakistan almost went to war in the wake of the attack on the Parliament House. In 2004, 707 civilians, 976 terrorists and 281 police and military personnel were killed. In 2009, the numbers plummeted to 64 security personnel, 78 civilians and 239 terrorists.

India does not make public its force-levels in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2007, though, the former Northern Army commander, Lieutenant-General H.S. Panag, said a total of 3,37,000 troops were present in the State and less than 30 per cent of these were committed to counter-terrorism duties.

The State government contends that the decline in violence, as well as enhancements in police strength, means a number of these troops could be withdrawn and, as they leave, the Act lifted.

The Army acknowledges the decline in violence, but argues that there is a continued threat from across the Line of Control, which necessitates the Act remaining in place.

The army strikes the enemy with a view to kill unlike the civilian police.If the enemy doesn't die, then he or she is captured. That ought to be so if it is a warlike situation where there are no civilians or they have been evacuated. Is that the situation in Kashmir?

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 14:12 IST

The Army must be taken into confidence while revoking the AFSPA. If selectively revoked, it will have the dual benefits of gaining goodwill of the people and the forces thus relieved can be redistributed along the LOC

from:  krishnan
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 10:22 IST

Figures also suggest that polio has almost been eradicated from our country. So, we will stop giving 2 drops to our children and save a lot of money.

from:  Deepan
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 09:36 IST

It is portrayed as though the Army loves to kill people and hide behind AFSPA. I don't think reality of the situation demands roll back or vacate AFSPA.Just read an article published by The Hindu the same day this article came out, do you think the people across the line of control will appreciate the any moves like this...absolutely not. People in Kashmir need support in different ways not these symbolic acts...which really will have no value to the common man in Srinagar.They need quality jobs, education and restoration of human dignity which every citizen enjoys in the rest of the country.That will truly transform the sentiments in the long run.Government and Policy makers should not be short sighted but look at the Long term picture on how Kashmir state be developed and peace and tranquility becomes permanent.India is the only country in the entire world where every different versions of human beings can live and practice their traditions and religion without fear or discrimination.

from:  Prem
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 09:31 IST

Till such time pakistan can turn the terrorist tap OFF and ON , it is not correct to remove AFSPA. Also, to believe that a tainted and terrorist infested J K police can take of the state is such as stupid idea. Let us all be aware that what we face in J and K is WAR and to name it anything else would be live in a fool`s paradise.

from:  gokulkrishnan
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 06:27 IST

Can Praveen Swami explain in his next article / blog what AFSPA constitues so misunderstanding on part of some commentators that it is draconian and it allows Army to fire on peaceful gatherings - such misunderstandings on their part can be done away.

from:  harshi
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 02:15 IST

I strongly disagree with The Hindu for this article!! Please do not promote this in any way. Wait till militancy turns to friendship. Else, devil will speak n you all will see and hear the consequences on a daily basis. Reduction in violence is just because of the presence of Indian Army. Remove them and Porxxxxxx will send multiple Pxxxs as a gift on a daily basis. Let people in J and K realize this or not as they have already been brainwashed. With the removal of such acts, surely one day Porxxxxxx will gift whole of J and K to Chinese and will look forward for other states as well.

from:  Sourabh
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 23:09 IST

Army should be there for National Security. But Army is accountable for its behaviour towards locals. If India considers those people their own, its Army should respect them too. If India does not consider those people as their own, then their Army has no biz being there. A civilized demeanor by the Army is a must. That's how you win the much needed confidence of the people.

from:  Ranga Calyanakoti
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 22:44 IST

Ajay, 5 bombs were exploded in a single day 2 days ago. You claim there is peace there- are we living in the same world?!? Prof. Krishnamurthy, I agree with you, these guys from The Hindu are biased beyond redemption!

from:  Sridar
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 19:39 IST

During the 1971 war, India should have re-claimed the whole of Jand K as per the rules of partition. Also they should have disbanded the whole Pak army structure and apparatus. This would have avoided the problems now faced not only by India and Afghanistan but the whole world as regards the ISI and pak military training terrorists for Islamic Jihad around the world. Shame about the weak leadership by previous and current Indian govts.

from:  Vipul Dave
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 19:14 IST

When Muslims across the nation do not have any qualms to stay in India why do the Kashmiris say they don't want to live with us? In the last 60 years, did any Muslim from any part of the country come out suggesting the Kashmiri folks to live with India for their better future? does that mean, the Muslims are living here just for convenience and not wholeheartedly? These are tougher questions that we do not have answers for even after so many years of partition of our motherland on the basis of religion. If Muslims honour the Secularism the same way as most Hindhus do, then why don't the celebrities in their community come out against the terror acts perpetrated by the enemy Pakistan? Does the Indian Muslims still think Pakistan as their home? then why stay here? The Indian think tanks and the Muslim leaders need to revisit what they have been doing so far and decide what to do for a better future. This is not a hate speech but one demands honest soul searching and needed correction.

from:  Samba Kolusu
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 18:14 IST

As long as we have AFSPA in India, we shouldn't mock our neighbour for giving too much power to army. They have J and K like situation across the whole country. Military must not be involved in crime control within a civil society. When a gap in the policing system is exposed by the insurgency, it is ok to use the military until that deficiency is addressed, say, for few days but not beyond a month. Now we are talking about generation of youth growing up under the presence of military. Military in civil society has never given a good result anywhere in the world ever.

from:  Balaji
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 17:06 IST

In the wake of decrease in terrorism related violent activities and for an amicable environment in Kashmir,it is high time that the draconian AFSPA be repealed not only from the valley but from the rest of the country especially from north-east.Let us build a conducive India by limiting the strong hand of the army.

from:  Ajay
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 16:48 IST

people should be given a chance to live peacefully., at the same time the LOC to be monitored effectively and technically with modern tech. cos no civilians will be targeted by name of terrorists.
people will respect the army men., if they respect people's rights and not to harass them..

from:  sayeed
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 16:34 IST

As Far As AFSPA is Concern I as a kashmiri Not have any interest in revocation of AFSPA.But concreate Confidence Building Measures Should taken by Both India as well as Pakistan.Revocation of AFSPA is a tactic to divert the attention of a commen Men specially kashmiri people from the core issue of Right to self determination.If you revoce AFSPA so what there is DAA (Disturbed Areas Act),PSA (Public Safety Act) And Much More to revoke.

from:  SHEIKH MUJEEB
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 15:52 IST

You cannot predict when Pakistan will send the highly radicalised cadres of Lakser-o-Toiba & Indian Mujahedden to Kashmir to foment trouble. As of now India's helpful attitude to Afghanistan is resented by Pakistani military and this may create unnecessary provocation

from:  R.Muralidharan
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 15:41 IST

I think based on the above statistics, there is a strong case to lift
the AFSPA. Only with lower levels of army on the streets can there be
any confidence and respect towards a democratic establishment,
otherwise apprehension in the minds of Kashmiri people would never
subside.
Also the proposal is only to withdraw on a test basis from enclaves
which will at least give a good idea of how this would work and then
to take a more informed decision on the whole view.
Worst case scenario, if there is an increase in terrorist attacks due
to this being lifted, I don't think people would disagree to bring
back the act!
I think it is a very good step by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and
wish he would succeed.

from:  Ram Chalam
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 14:47 IST

Though the Congress chief in J&K knows the truth, he speaks the opposite
to the media. The Congress has perfected the art of double talk --
sometimes patronizing fringe communal elements in the name of
minorities'rights and then actually sacrificing the minorities'rights to
appease the majority for electoral gains.

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 14:46 IST

Mr Chidambaram's attempt at diluting the role of AFSPA in J & K and bringing about a normal and routine social democratic lifestyle for all in Kashmir is a very commendable effort. The Armed Forces contention may bring about political backlashes to the INC at the general elections; however referring to as to what the former President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharaff had had said yesterday in the USA that the ISI must interfere if Afghanistan becomes to closer to India is a much more a serious warning for the Chief of Staff at this moment than agreeing with the Home Minister on the issue of AFSPA.

from:  Richard Kamalanathan
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 12:48 IST

The precise reason why terrorism levels are down at the moment is because of army deployment and their domination. If the act is withdrawn and the army returns to its barracks, it would be very difficult to establish dominance again.

from:  Alakshyendra
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 11:09 IST

It is a genuine desire on the part of every citizen of Jammu and Kashmir to see the army back to barracks. Their continued presence on roads, fields, orchards etc make people suspicious of India's intentions. People do praise India for generous economic packages (although downward filtration is negligible), they are fans of Bollywood and Indian Cricket. The young generation is quite enthusiastic to make their entry in the Civil Services. The sense of being human is lost once we face the armed forces in every corner of the state. The armed forces willingly or unwillingly irritate us by frisking, abusing or or by blocking the roads in an irresponsible way. The need of the hour is to revoke the AFSPA and DAA. Give us a chance to breathe without fear and fire.

from:  Sajad Padder
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 11:01 IST

AFSPA has strengthened power of armed forces when government declared JamMu Kashmir a disturbed area.Accordingly army can fire peaceful gathering and has right to kill even without prior sanction for prosecution.According to present situation army rollback is desirable.

from:  Radha Kumud Das
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 10:13 IST

Statistics speak for themselves and people need civil administration,
not military administration. The most feared implication of lifting
AFSPA in the Kashmir valley is insurgency, both within and the other
side of line of actual control. The grass on the other side of Radcliffe
line not always green, and the Centre needs Kashmir's support. The
"Interlocutors report" would surely reflect the ground situation. The
antiquated act can now safely be lifted.

from:  Dr Neelkant
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 08:01 IST

Your article is misleading and outrageous gimmick, which is designed to
strengthen the number of islamic terrorists in the valley. Petty crimes
in other states are not equivalent to a systematic design of islamists
in Kashmir, who are hellbent to form an islamic Kashmir (Nizam-e-
mustafa). The ideology behind this article is anti-India to its core.

from:  Dr. Rakesh Ranjan Singh
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 07:37 IST

Of course, the Army is right who are in frontline facing with situation. Politicians only make statements to their advantage at cost of lives of our brave soldiers. Our media is equally irresponsible. Cann't they see that Kashmir police is full of separatists sympathisers, how it can be effective. Terrorists are on parole after murdering Hindus and one is even marrying an MLA. How such place can be safe - it will become safe heaven for terrorits if ASFP Act is relaxed.

from:  harshi
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 07:16 IST

So should we fix a limit of say 200 deaths per 100,000 people as level
to guide us if and where we use the Army? The argument is not valid in
the scenario being witnessed and has been witnessed in J&K. The problem
of terrorism and areas where the act is necessary is mostly remote
locations of the state where the Police force has little to no presence.
Inspite of the rhetoric, Army is necessary for maintainence of law and
order in the state. And if the Army goes in, AFSPA is mandatory. Its
simple- remove the act, the army won't function.

from:  Dr. Prabhjot Singh
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 07:15 IST

Government must remain realist and not listen to the self-proclaimed intellectuals or champions of Human Rights.Secular democracies like India are not equipped to deal with religion drive insurgencies.If the other democracies in Europe and North America can bring in special law that gives special rights to security personnel why India feels so secure. This decline is due to AFSPA and presence of army and we must maintain the pressure till those who are being exhorted by their master from across the border realise the futilty of their violent struggle.

from:  Rohit
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 05:27 IST

This is the stupidest comparison I have ever seen, there is less terrorism because of the presence of Army troops and not because all of a sudden terrorists became saints. Figures clearly suggest 232 terrorists are killed, in which other states these many terrorists are killed? Reducing troop level is good but revoking AFSPA is stupidity when even US is saying Pakistan is still harboring terrorists against us. The decline in terrorists is because Pakistan is concentrating on its Afghan border, it's only a matter of time Pakistan will again target Kashmir using terrorists. Protecting the border is must for any country, especially when countries like Pakistan and China are eagerly waiting to occupy.

from:  JP
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 04:46 IST

...As usual " The Hindu " is up to its nature . It says that large scale Army Deployment is unnecessary now as situation has improved. The situation is normal only due to AFSPA not vice-versa. Now the same " The HIndu " favours Rajapakse who has virtually made entire North of Lanka where only sick & invalid old Tamils live and some children . The entire youth has been wiped off .See the double standard of this so called great paper.

from:  Prof.R.Krishnamurthy
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 04:27 IST

The real question is: How do terrorism related deaths in J&K compare to other states? The murder statistics that you trot out are irrelevant. Afterall, it is not the army's job to reduce the homicide rate.

from:  Gopal Vaidya
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 03:52 IST

The threats from Pakistan combined with those from China cannot be dismissed lightly. Since 1947, several attempts have been made by Pakistan military to capture Kashmir by force. When these failed, it resorted to using terrorists to fight a low intensity war against India which continues to this day.

China has waged a war against India in 1962 and still occupies a large area that belongs to India in J&K and Araunacha Pradesh. It still claims additional Indian areas.

It would be foolish to reduce troop concentrations in Kashmir when India faces threats from these two hostile nations.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 02:08 IST

A very good effort by The Hindu. Responsible and active media effort.

from:  Jeril
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 01:54 IST

and how come Hindu did the investigation?? Don't misguide the masses on sensitive issues. Wait till Home ministry publish the guidelines and their view. Shame on you!!!

from:  fekooram
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 01:24 IST

It is not correct as you got Violent protest everyday in J&k but not in other states. If you rollback then it is people who suffer not Army. All terrorist from Pxxxxxxx can roam J&K freely.

from:  Rao
Posted on: Oct 28, 2011 at 01:01 IST
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