The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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More Valley troops on Centre table

New Delhi, Oct. 4: The Centre is likely to deploy more troops in Kashmir despite asking high-power committees to study demands for the withdrawal of the army.

The killing of two army officers in the Valley yesterday has combined with a calendar that includes elections in the state to bolster the move to send in more troops.

“Only yesterday, two majors were killed — this shows that the level of violence has remained unchanged,” the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Lieutenant General (retired) S.K. Sinha, said here today when asked if the proposal to reduce army deployment was being accepted.

“Not all political parties — only some — have demanded withdrawal of troops. Besides, the infrastructure of the terrorists across the border is not yet dismantled,” Sinha said, rationalising his view that increased army presence was needed in Kashmir.

“Infiltration still continues. This (withdrawal) is not feasible at this time. The army is there to help the people. The human rights record of the Indian Army is better than the Pakistan Army’s in Baluchistan and even better than the US Army’s,” said the governor, who retired as the vice-chief of army staff.

Sinha was speaking on the sidelines of a programme to release a book by Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Jaswant Singh Marwah, the father of General Joginder Jaswant Singh who retired on September 30.

The Centre had appointed two committees headed by the defence minister and the defence secretary to study the demand to withdraw troops from Jammu and Kashmir voiced by the People’s Democratic Party of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed three months ago.

The report of the committee headed by the defence secretary was submitted to the defence minister’s committee and the government agreed in principle to pull out troops from orchards and schools. But there has been no withdrawal from the state.

The army itself is against the proposal.

“We need more forces. This point needs to be appreciated,” the governor said.

The proposal to withdraw troops will be further weakened over the next few months. Sinha said the state would go to polls in a few months and this would require deployment of more troops.

Elections in the state are due in September 2008. But they are likely to be held earlier, so as not to time a period of intense political activity with the fasting month of Ramazan and the Amarnath yatra that would be held for nearly two months before that. The yatra itself needs more troops to secure its route.

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