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BSF pullout

New Delhi, Jan. 29: The move to replace the BSF with the Central Reserve Police Force in major towns in Jammu and Kashmir will take between two and three years, home ministry sources said, reports our special correspondent.

The government also made it clear that the move was not a signal for reduction of paramilitary forces in the state.

Until militant strikes in Kashmir are reduced, the forces would remain.

“This does not mean an overnight shift, the target is to complete the process in two to three years,” a senior official said.

The decision to gradually shift the BSF to guard the borders — for which the force was originally meant — was made on the basis of recommendations by a group of ministers set up after the Kargil intrusion.

The ministers felt that had the BSF been allowed to stay on the border, India would not have been taken by surprise during Pakistan’s silent occupation of the Kargil heights.

Over the past 10 years, the BSF has taken over much of the anti-insurgency duties in Kashmir since there were not enough CRPF personnel.

The CRPF was deployed in the northeastern states and across the country, containing communal tension, manning checkpoints in troubled states and providing security during elections.

The BSF was helping the army, the Rashtriya Rifles, the state police and the CRPF in Kashmir. The CRPF is now in a better position to deal with insurgency and will be adequately equipped.

But the exercise will be gradual. The BSF will remain essentially on the borders in Kashmir and continue to control certain other sensitive areas.

“The change, when it finally comes, will only be cosmetic. Whether it is BSF or CRPF, an anti-insurgency force will always be tough,” said an official. For the people of Kashmir, it will make no difference, he added.

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