M A I N   N E W S

30,000 troops withdrawn from J&K: Antony
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 18
Defence Minister AK Antony today said if situation permitted, India was willing to further reduce the presence of Armed Forces in Jammu and Kashmir where 30,000 troops have been withdrawn in the past two years. He also made it clear that the much criticised Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) - which is in place in Jammu & Kashmir and the North East - will not be withdrawn.

The message of more troop withdrawal is aimed at creating an atmosphere for the “quiet diplomacy” mooted by Home Minister P Chidambaram besides curbing the malicious international propaganda against the Indian forces.

Separately, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and several politicians in the North East have been demanding a repeal of the AFSPA.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Internal security: Duties and obligations in upholding human rights’, Antony conceded that AFSPA was needed for effective action by the forces. He, however, asked special provisions of the Act should not be put to any misuse. “Stern action will be taken against the guilty in case of any misuse. Even a single instance of human rights violation is totally unacceptable,” said Antony.

Later at a press meet, the Defence Minister said: “We are not happy in deploying forces for internal security. In Jammu & Kashmir, we want to see that normalcy is established there at the earliest. It was because of the forces that the law and order situation in the state is improving and infiltration is declining,” he stated.

“Two divisions have been withdrawn in the past two years. Whenever we feel the situation is improving, we are willing to further reduce the visibility. As long as forces are deployed, they need some special powers. Without them, the Army cannot operate,” said Antony as he revealed his stance.

Earlier at the seminar, he said one of the major challenges in countering terror was that on one hand the security forces had to preserve the territorial integrity and give a sense of security to the people. On the other hand, they also run the risk of being dubbed as authoritarian and repressive in the process.

“Through repeated terror attacks, the terrorists want the security forces to make mistakes that can be projected as a violation of human rights. Case of human rights violation by security forces have been rare,” he said.

The Defence Minister went on to praise the efforts of the Army in Operation Sadbhavana in Jammu & Kashmir where it has involved the local population in promoting their craft and educating children. 



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