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BSF boost to sister force

Srinagar, Nov. 10: The Central Reserve Police Force, which is taking over counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, will have the Border Security Force’s vast intelligence pool to draw on.

The BSF was assigned the counter-insurgency role in the state in 1990 when militancy spread across Jammu and Kashmir.

Over the years it has notched up several successes, which made the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government reluctant to let the force be taken off counter-insurgency operations as that would give militants some respite.

But with the Centre having decided to use the BSF in its original role of manning the borders and curbing infiltration and other illegal cross-border activities, it is the paramilitary CRPF which will now tackle militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking at the force’s heavily guarded headquarters here, Vijay Raman, BSF inspector-general, Kashmir, said: “We will hand over all our assets, especially our pools of intelligence painstakingly gathered over the years, so that the CRPF is fully equipped to meet the challenge.”

“(The) CRPF is our sister organisation and we wish them well,” he added.

The BSF withdrawal will begin from downtown Srinagar — eight of its battalions will be replaced by those of the CRPF.

“We will first withdraw five battalions and in the second phase, three more battalions will move out, beginning November 15. These will be replaced by the CRPF,” Raman said.

He added that other battalions from south Srinagar will be phased out early next year.

“The other areas, including south Kashmir, Tral and Kokernag, too will be handed over to CRPF,” the inspector-general said.

“The BSF was initially tasked to guard the international border. BSF troops will be deployed on the border after the withdrawal from counter insurgency duties is completed,” he added.

“The BSF has a sense of satisfaction and contentment that it could come up to the expectation of the nation. The force, with its committed team of officers and men and strong leadership, created history by eliminating the top militant of the decade (Jaish-e-Mohammad chief commander) Gazi Baba, who struck at the foundation of the Indian democratic institution,” Raman said.

Baba, the mastermind of the December 2001 Parliament attack and the driving force behind militancy in the state, was killed by the BSF in Srinagar’s Noorbagh area on August 30.

Raman said the BSF had killed 2,040 militants and captured 9,525 in the 13 years that it has been in charge of counter-insurgency operations; 918 antinationals have surrendered during this period.

He added that the BSF has seized 5,495 weapons during this time, along with 700,000 rounds of ammunition, 785 wireless sets and 6,950 kg of explosives.

“Fighting a proxy war sponsored by neighbouring count- ries is not an easy task,” Raman said.

These success es have taken a toll. Since 1990, the BSF has lost 668 personnel and 3,191 have suffered injuries.

This year, 24 BSF troopers have been killed and 102 personnel injured.

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