The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mufti vouches for BSF, seeks pullout rethink

Jammu, Nov. 5: The Jammu and Kashmir government opposes the withdrawal of the BSF from counter-insurgency operations in the state, especially the Valley, at a time when the fight against militancy has reached a crucial phase.

Deputy chief minister Mangat Ram Sharma said the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government would try and convince L.K. Advani that the BSF should not be withdrawn from the state as the force had tackled militants effectively.

“The BSF has done an excellent job and we would ask the central government and (deputy Prime Minister) Advani that there should be proper review of this decision in the interests of the state,” Sharma said.

He said the BSF’s performance should be evaluated in the context of its success in neutralising top militants. The force won praise for the August 30 killing of Gazi Baba, chief commander of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad, in Srinagar’s Noorbagh area.

The killing of the December 2001 Parliament attack mastermind was a big blow to militants in Kashmir, for he was considered the driving force behind militancy in the state.

The BSF has since played a lead role in killing a number of top militants.

The Centre plans to use the force in its original role of manning the borders and curbing infiltration and other illegal cross-border activities. The BSF — which will be replaced by the Central Reserve Police Force — will be shifted out of the state from next month.

The deployment of the BSF along the borders has already been worked out. Some units will be deputed inside Jammu and Kashmir, especially in infiltration-prone areas like Kathua and Jammu district. Other units will be sent to Rajasthan and the Northeast states.

The BSF has been present in Jammu and Kashmir since the force was set up in the 1960s, but it was only in 1990 when militancy spread across the state that it was assigned an anti-insurgency role.

It has been embroiled in some controversies along the way, none bigger than the Bijbehara shooting. Thirty-seven residents of the south Kashmir town protesting against the siege of the Hazratbal shrine were shot on October 22, 1993, triggering a huge controversy.

Of late, however, the BSF has notched up several successes, making the state government reluctant to let the force be taken off counter-insurgency operations and thus give militants some respite.

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