The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to recall 100 companies of paramilitary deployed in the Kashmir Valley last year. The ministry today decided to remove all these companies set up before the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir after reviewing the situation. This decision of the home ministry, observers say, is a major step of confidence-building in the valley.
The home ministry is recalling around 12,000 paramilitary personnel from the union territory. The Centre had deployed nearly 30,000 additional Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in the Kashmir Valley before virtually abrogating Article 370 in the parliament.
The Narendra Modi government had deployed Border Security Force (BSF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel in large numbers in the valley too — in order to pre-empt terrorists and stop separatists from provoking the residents in what was until then a state. With the deployment of these jawans, the home ministry reviewed the situation in the valley from time to time.
Recently, in view of the Amarnath Yatra, the ministry had decided to deploy these jawans for the security of the pilgrims additionally. However, after the postponement of the yatra, the forces’ focus remained on internal security.
The home ministry approved the withdrawal of additional security forces from the valley after holding a high-level meeting with the officers of the security agencies deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, the CRPF and intelligence agencies. Following the order of the ministry, a total of 100 companies of paramilitary forces will withdraw from the valley. The Centre will later take a call on their deployment in other parts of the country. Sources said some of these personnel will be sent to arrange adequate security forces for the upcoming Bihar assembly election.
What is the substance in the message from the home ministry?
The decision to withdraw the paramilitary forces from Jammu and Kashmir is a big message. Manoj Sinha’s appointment as the lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir recently receded today’s decision. The Modi government is making efforts to restore political activities in the state, projecting to the rest of the country and the world that the situation in the valley is normal. But is it?
Observers say that by deciding to withdraw these forces, the Centre has tried to show that there is no tension in Jammu and Kashmir and, therefore, there is no need for additional troops.
But the shocking killing of Kashmiri Pandit Sarpanch Ajay Pandita on 8 June 2020 and the merciless gunning down of BJP leader Waseem Bari and his father and brother a month later tell a different story. In over a year since the scrapping of Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah has not dared even once to say in their speeches that the provision had to be removed from the constitution for the sake of Kashmiri Pandits.