Indian Army chief General VK Singh Friday said there was no need to reduce the number of military personnel in Occupied Kashmir, snubbing his government’s announcement just hours earlier of 25% cut in security forces in the state, reported Indian media. Earlier in the day, Indian Home Secretary GK Pillai said the aim was to pull out 25% of troops from populated areas in the next 12 months as a confidence-building measure.
However, General VK Singh said, “In what context the home ministry has talked of forces reduction, I will not like to make any comment. In the future, if they want to reduce the paramilitary or police force, I would not like to say anything”, he added. He said as far as the number of armed forces personnel was concerned, there was no need to reduce their presence. “With regard to the army, we have deployed troops after analysing our requirements on the border and the Line of Control. As of now, we do not feel we should reduce the numbers", Singh told reporters at his annual media conference.
The Indian government doesn’t give the number of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, but according to unofficial estimates the army has nearly one-fourth of its 1.13 million troops in the state. Speaking at a seminar on Kashmir in the Indian capital, Indian Home Secretary Pillai said that the government was looking at cutting troops by "25% in 12 months from populated areas’. “If we can manage with local police, that would be the most ideal situation, and this is one of the confidence-building measures - that people don’t get harassed by the overpresence of security forces”, Pillai said. “If peace comes, if violence is not there, people are comfortable, we can gradually reduce our presence and make sure that all forces are there only at the border for preventing infiltration.”
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