Friday, October 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Troop pullout may take some time
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17
It will take some time before the actual movement of troops starts from the international border with Pakistan.

Sources cited logistic problems and the distances involved at various places which could delay the return movement of the troops. Besides, as heavy equipment had also been moved to the forward areas, it would further delay the process.

Indian soldier's patrol near the border with Pakistan at Hiranagar sector of India's Jammu and Kashmir state, on Thursday. India's army is due to begin pulling hundreds of thousands of soldiers back from the border with Pakistan on Thursday, a spokesman said, ending the longest and biggest peacetime deployment in the country's history. — Reuters photo

After the government ordered the deployment of the troops following the terrorist attack on Parliament on December 13, it had taken almost a month for all forces to be to the forward areas. It could take the same time to dismantle all facilities and equipment positioned in forward locations.

While the Chief of Army Staff, Gen S. Padmanabhan, held informal consultations with senior officers here, reports suggested that a formal withdrawal schedule would be worked out under the Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO). several meetings were also held at the Air Headquarters to prepare groundwork for redeployment. Till late this evening, the Service Headquarters were still to receive an official communique from the government regarding its decision to pull back the troops. The sources said till such time the Service Headquarters received the communique, no official steps could be undertaken to initiate the redeployment.

Although the Air Force would take a shorter time to move its assets, the same was not the case with the Army. Since most Army columns move by road and rail, the requisition of the required mode of transport itself could take some time.

Among the forces which would be redeployed would be the main strike corps of the country. The strike corps had been in the state of readiness at the international border which India had with Pakistan, including that in Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Incidentally, the combined commanders conference of the three services as well as individual service commanders conference is scheduled to be held in Delhi next week. The three services were bound to discuss the movement schedule of the troops and the impact of such a long deployment on the troops.

The sources said while the troops falling under the latest decision would have started the process of packing goods and material, the earliest return movement would possibly start only next week.

The first redeployment might be of the formations in Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat which had their headquarters in the respective states. Since the distance involved would be much shorter, they might be the first to be moved.

Reports also said the cumbersome handing over process to the paramilitary forces deployed along the border was another reason for the delay. Since the Army had taken over most of the BSF assets at the time of deployment, the handing over would also take time.

The government had earlier put all para-military forces stationed along the border and those posted in the forward areas under the Army’s control for operational reasons.


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