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Kashmir report silent on troop cuts
Sumir Kaul in New Delhi | September 10, 2007 20:59 IST
After a four-month study of the troop deployment in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir [Images], a committee headed by Defence Secretary Vijay Singh [Images] submitted its report to the central government but remained silent on the issue of troop reduction in the state.
The report, submitted to National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, suggested that Army deployment should ensure less inconvenience to the public. For example, the public should not be hassled during cordon and search operations in the state, said sources in the Defence Ministry.
The high-level panel, which was formed at the instruction of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] on March 30 this year, also asked security forces to either vacate government buildings, schools and private houses and orchards by October-end or pay the rent according to present market rates.
The report also approved a proposal by the Jammu and Kashmir government about a revised fare for renting civilian property to security forces, said sources.
However, the report did not put forth any comment about troop reduction in the valley, as it opined that this could be decided only by the Unified Command, an apex body comprising the Army, police, para-military forces and intelligence officials to tackle insurgency.
But the issue is bound to have political repercussions, as the ruling Congress' junior ally PDP has been demanding troop reduction in the state.
The report also outlined the do's and don'ts during search-and-cordon operations and favoured that the Army and other security forces be asked to concentrate only on the search area and not cause problems by stopping the traffic.
The report suggested that security forces be relocated from 10 schools and other government utility buildings as soon as the forces got a suitable location. The report also recommended joint use of infrastructure by the Army and the Central Reserve Police Force, as both are part of the counter-insurgency grid in the state.
The report was jointly prepared by Singh and his predecessor Shekhar Dutt, who was the defence secretary till July 31.