Surge in troops sparks panic in Kashmir

10,000 more personnel to be deployed; move attributed to Amarnath Yatra.

July 28, 2019 12:05 am | Updated 12:05 am IST - New Delhi

Securing pilgrims:  Around 32,000 security men have been deployed for securing the Amarnath Yatra.

Securing pilgrims: Around 32,000 security men have been deployed for securing the Amarnath Yatra.

As panic gripped Jammu and Kashmir over the additional deployment of 10,000 troops, a senior official said the movement was necessary as the security forces deployed in the Kashmir Valley were “stretched” in securing the Amarnath Yatra route.

K. Vijay Kumar, adviser to the Governor, told The Hindu , “Infusion of reinforcements is a calibrated response after a joint assessment of security forces, especially as a substantial number had been deployed on Yatra-related security.”

‘For effective planning’

“There is no need to panic; extra personnel are being deployed so we could plan security operations effectively. Our hands were full as the Amarnath Yatra is going on,” another official said.

Around 32,000 personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces are deployed for securing the Yatra that concludes on August 15. The security detail also involves escorting the pilgrims from their base camps to the Amarnath shrine and on their way back.

The official said that though there was a high threat perception around the Yatra, especially after the car-borne attack on a CRPF bus in Pulwama earlier this year, the deployment was more or less similar to that of last year. The State is now under President’s Rule. Besides the police and the Army, 50,000 personnel of the Central forces have been deployed in the Valley to assist in security operations and other law and order duties.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), from the years 2016 to 18, as many as 1,278 operations were conducted by security forces in which 599 terrorists were killed.

From the beginning of this year till July 16, as many as 126 terrorists were killed in various operations in the Kashmir Valley. During these operations, 75 security personnel were also killed, and they included the 40 CRPF personnel killed in the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.

In an unprecedented move, on July 25, the MHA ordered deployment of additional 100 companies of CAPFs “in order to strengthen the counter-insurgency grid as well as for maintaining the law and order situation in J&K”.

A senior government official said troops were being airlifted to the Valley. “Forces are being moved through commercial aircraft and we are also taking the help of the Indian Air Force,” said an official.

After the ongoing deployment, the Valley will see a deployment of nearly 1.2 lakh personnel of Central forces.

The MHA order comes after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval returned from the State this week. He also visited the Amarnath shrine.

The last time such deployment was made on February 23, three days before the Balakot air strike in Pakistan.

The official refused to comment if the deployment was related to Government's move to remove Article 35A from the State.

The provision lets the J&K legislature decide the “permanent residents” of the State, prohibits a non-J&K resident from buying property in the State and ensures job reservation for its residents.

The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions in the matter and the J&K administration had earlier said that only an elected government would be able to take a stand on Article 35A in the court.

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