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Govt rules out reduction in forces in J&K
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15
The UPA government today ruled out any troop reduction in Jammu and Kashmir and made it clear that it would firmly deal with terrorism while continuing dialogue with “responsible” groups and individuals to restore peace in the state.

“There is no question of demilitarisation... redeployment is different from reducing force levels... there is no question of withdrawal of forces and certainly no question of demilitarisation till terrorism ends,” Home Minister Shivraj Patil told the Lok Sabha not agree to any such proposal (of Pakistan),” he said adding that the ruling UPA should keep in mind the 1994 unanimous resolution of Parliament that the state is an integral part of India.

On the issue of force levels, Mr Patil said redeployment of security forces had been carried out keeping ground realities in view.

The minister said a special recruitment drive had been launched in J&K to raise five India Reserve Battalions comprising locals.

Additional recruitment in CRPF and other para-military units was going on, he said adding in all, as many as 10,000 young men would form a part of the police force.

Rejecting the Opposition charge that government had not acted despite the massacres, he said 85 village defence committees, comprising 605 members, had been provided with rifles and given on-the-spot training to protect people in the Doda region.

When pointed out by BJP Deputy Leader V.K Malhotra that VDC members were armed with .303 rifles as against AK-47 automatic weapons used by militants, Mr Patil said any kind of weapon could be provided and the Jammu and Kashmir Government was working on the issue.

Participating in the debate, a senior Samajwadi Party member suggested that “Pakistan has done nothing to shut terrorist training camps in PoK. We should look for a military option.... to destroy these camps.”

He said government should chalk out a long-drawn policy to tackle terrorism in J&K and not come up with “knee-jerk reactions.”

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