Army presence in J&K will not be reduced: Antony

Defence Minister A.K. Antony at the commissioning of INS Deepak, a tanker vessel, at the naval dockyard in Mumbai on Friday. Photo: Vivek Bendre  

Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Friday clarified that there was no proposal for reducing the Army in Jammu and Kashmir for now. “There is some confusion about that statement,” he said, referring to the Home Ministry's announcement of a 25 per cent reduction in security forces in the border State.

Mr. Antony was talking to journalists after commissioning the Italian-built fleet tanker INS Deepak into the Indian Navy at the Naval Dockyard here.

“The statement was not about Army reduction but about paramilitary [forces'] reduction. We have already reduced 30,000 [of the] Army forces. After that, there is no such proposal before us,” he said.

Emphasising that the reduction of troops was not a political decision, Mr. Antony said it was for those studying the security situation on the ground to recommend.

“This is a matter of national security… In the case of Kashmir, it is [for] the unified command consisting of all the agencies [to recommend]. If they are convinced, they should recommend it to the Army,” he said.

In the backdrop of cases such as the Adarsh housing society scam, Mr. Antony said the State government was going to change the policy of issuing a No Objection Certificate (NOC) without proper verification.

He said that in the new method, a lower-level official would not be able to issue the NOC.

“We will institutionalise the method so that the NOC will be given only after careful study. A policy decision has been taken. Now we are working on the process of implementation,” Mr. Antony said.

He said that the Defence Ministry was in the process of computerising the records of land belonging to it.

“There were no proper land records in the past. That created lot of problems. But we are tightening the system now. We will computerise the entire defence land record in a time-bound manner. We will not allow similar things to happen in the future [referring to Adarsh],” he said.

Security threat

The Minister admitted that the country faced a security threat from terror organisations. “We are getting lot of intelligence from our agencies and [those of] foreign countries. [Some] elements are trying to create problems on the border — both on the land border as well as on the coast. But our forces are vigilant,” he said.

Asked about the Chinese incursion in the northeastern States, he admitted to a few having taken place.

“Right now the authorities are questioning them [referring to a few Chinese tourists allegedly intercepted at the Indo-Nepal border]. But overall, the Army and the paramilitary forces, especially the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force, are doing well in protecting our territory,” he said.

He admitted that India had neglected the development of assets and infrastructure in these States in the past. “But now we are strengthening our capability in terms of assets and infrastructure in our land in the east,” he said.

Mr. Antony said an internal inquiry was going on regarding the Kandivali-Malad land. The Army, claiming that the land in the Mumbai suburb was on lease with the Central Ordnance Depot, had alleged that the State government “illegally” sold it to a private builder.

Asked if any action would be taken against the erring defence officers, he said: “Wherever possible, after careful inquiry, we will take strict action as per the law.”

Missing war soldiers

He said the government was taking all possible efforts with the help of the Ministry of External Affairs to find the missing Indian soldiers of the 1965 and 1971 wars. “We are continuously trying to find those heroes. It is a sad thing. We are still meeting their relatives,” he said.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 6:21:19 PM |

Next Story