Planned Army withdrawal from Jammu and Kashmir put on hold indefinitely

The government had intended to downsize the presence of Rashtriya Rifles, a counter-insurgency force of the Army, in the Jammu region and transfer security responsibilities to the Jammu and Kashmir Police and paramilitary forces, according to officials.

MoD, Indian Army
Officials have announced the decision to shelve the proposal for the Army's withdrawal from Jammu and Kashmir indefinitely, considering the prevailing situation and the recent incidents of terrorist attacks I File Photo

Officials announced that the planned phased withdrawal of the Army from specific areas in the Jammu region has been put on hold indefinitely due to ongoing terror attacks originating from across the border.

They said the government had planned to reduce the footprints of Rashtriya Rifles, a counter-insurgency force of the Army, in the Jammu region and hand over the security to the Jammu and Kashmir Police and paramilitary forces.

The Army has three Counter-Insurgent Forces (CIF) in the Jammu region — Delta Force (which looks after the Doda region), Romeo Force (looking after Rajouri and Poonch areas) and Uniform Force (looking after Udhampur and Banihal areas).

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Some units of the Army had planned to gradually hand over the security and law and order management to the local police and paramilitary units in South of Pir Panjal (Jammu region), the officials said.

However, keeping the situation in mind, especially the killings by terrorists this year, it has been decided to shelve the proposal “indefinitely”, the officials said.

The areas in the Jammu region have seen 17 killings by terrorists, including that of 10 Army personnel.

Seven civilians were killed in Dhangri village of Rajouri on January 1 this year. Of them, five civilians were killed in a terrorist firing on January 1 evening while two minors lost their lives when an IED, left behind by the terrorists before fleeing, exploded the next day.

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Five Army personnel were killed in cold blood when terrorists attacked their vehicle at Bhatta Durrian in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district on April 20. The Army personnel were on their way to distribute Iftar material to a nearby village during Ramzan.

Five para commandos were killed and a Major-rank officer injured when terrorists set off an IED in Kandi Forest, Rajouri on May 5.

The proposal to withdraw the Army from the hinterland was under discussion for some time and a final recommendation was to be taken at the Unified Headquarters (UHQ) headed by Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha. The UHQ has top representatives from the Army, police and paramilitary forces.

Post abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, the law and order and terror-related incidents had shown a decline with the number of stone pelting incidents reduced to zero.

(With agency inputs)