The Centre ordered the “immediate” withdrawal of about 10,000 paramilitary personnel from the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, according to a statement released on Wednesday (August 19).
This is the biggest de-induction of these forces after additional troops were rushed to the Union Territory post the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution that gave the former state a unique status.
The decision was taken after the Ministry of Home Affairs reviewed the deployment of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) in the union territory (UT).
The Home Ministry had last withdrawn 10 CAPF companies from the UT in May, while 72 such units were taken out in December last year.
A senior official said a total of 100 CAPF companies have been ordered to be withdrawn “immediately” on Wednesday and that they have been asked to revert to their base locations in the country.
According to the directions, a total of 40 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and 20 each of the Central Industrial Security Force, the Border Security Force and the Sashastra Seema Bal, will be taken out from Jammu and Kashmir by this week.
The officials said the CRPF has been asked to make arrangements for air lifting of these units to Delhi and other locations.
A CAPF company has an operational strength of about 100 personnel. “The units that are being withdrawn are deployed both in Jammu and Srinagar. It was felt that the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist grid is intact in the UT and these additional units that were sent in last year can be de-inducted giving them the much required rest, recuperation and training,” a senior CAPF officer said.
“Also, with the winters soon setting in, it would have been an onerous task to keep these units in make-shift and temporary dwelling units especially in the Kashmir valley region,” he added.
With the latest de-induction, the lead counter-terrorist force CRPF will now have a strength of about 60 battalions (about 1,000 personnel in each battalion) in the Kashmir valley apart from very few units of the other CAPFs.
The Centre had brought in a slew of other measures to “prevent any backlash” in the Union Territory after the abrogation of Article 370. This included the detention of several political leaders, imposition of prohibitory orders banning large gatherings, and withdrawal of phone and internet services.
These restrictions have been lifted gradually in certain parts of Jammu and Kashmir over the last few months.
(With inputs from agencies)