“The CRPF is fully equipped and capable of taking the lead role in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir in case the paramilitary force is tasked to do so”, a senior officer of the force has said.
He said that though the security situation has drastically improved in the Valley in the past three years, the force was alert and keeping a watch on delinquent elements.
"The CRPF has the potential, ability, training, and technology to operate effectively in such (counter-insurgency) scenarios that is all I can say on this issue," IG CRPF (Kashmir Operations) M.S. Bhatia told PTI.
He was responding to a question about a report in a national daily in February which claimed that the Central Government was actively considering to withdraw the Army from hinterland operations in Kashmir in a phased manner.
"This is a policy issue which is decided at the highest level. And we will go by whatever mandate is given to us. Right now also, we are actively involved in operations along with the Army and the J&K Police," Mr. Bhatia said.
The CRPF had replaced the BSF in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir in 2005, amid scepticism that the former might not be able to keep up the high standards of the frontier guards.
IG CRPF (Kashmir Operations) M.S. Bhatia said there has been a “big change” in the situation in the Valley post the abrogation of Article 370.
“If we talk of a situation that prevailed pre-abrogation and the situation now, it has improved drastically in the last two-three years. That is remarkable," he said.
However, the IG CRPF was quick to add, "We are not claiming we have totally wiped out militancy or terrorism but from what it used to be, the numbers have shrunk, the recruitment has shrunk, the shelf life of a terrorist has come down. May be a few misguided youths join the ranks but they are also getting eliminated very fast."
Mr. Bhatia said the intelligence network was “very good”, which helps in keeping an eye on delinquent persons.
“The number of new recruits that are attracted or lured to this sort of rhetoric has definitely gone down. Even in the public, we feel that the support for such kind of elements has gone down," he said.
Mr. Bhatia said the law and order situation has improved drastically, while stone pelting has come down to zero.
"So, there are a lot of positives that we can look at. Of course, now and then you hear some terrorists here and there but by and large if you look at the larger picture, I would say the situation has drastically changed," he said.
The CRPF has modernised its weapons and equipment inventory to effectively deal with anti-national elements.
Bullet-proof vehicles, wall-through radars and drones are some of the new gadgets inducted by the force into its counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir, leading to precision-based actions against terrorists.