Leaves decision on AFSPA in J&K to MHA, says situation there ‘improving'

As the debate rages on the demand for withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is of the view that it will not have an adverse impact on the force as it already has enough immunity under the existing laws.

At a press conference here on Friday, CRPF Director-General K. Vijay Kumar said a decision on withdrawal of AFSPA and reducing the strength of security forces would have to be taken by the Union Home Ministry. “We will go by the Home Ministry's stand,” he added.

However, the CRPF chief said the force already has protection under Section 197 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. In J&K, the force enjoys the same protection under the Ranbir Penal Code.

Claiming that the situation in J&K had improved, Mr. Kumar said: “It has been one of the best years despite certain incidents.”

Mr. Kumar said the present level of deployment of the CRPF in J&K was 69 battalions and three companies of Mahila Battalion. “Recently, the actual level of deployment in the State was reduced to 417 companies from 548 companies. In all, 59 per cent of the force is deployed on country-insurgency and related duties and remaining 41 per cent is providing security to VVIP/vital installations, performing law and order duties and undergoing rotational training. Major shrines like Mata Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar are being guarded by the CRPF, besides guarding the highly-sensitive airports at Srinagar and Jammu,” he added.

About the increase in deployment in Naxal-hit areas, the CRPF chief said it was under active consideration and at present the emphasis was on the Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh belt.

“In order to bring in professionalism in the men on ground and improve their operational performance, we have undertaken new initiatives in training. Some of the new institutions that have come up or are in the process of being set up are the Indian Institute of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Management (Pune), CRPF Intelligence Institute (Gurgaon) and College of Insurgency and Jungle Craft (Belgaum),” he said.