Jammu and Kashmir politicians have welcomed the Union home minister's decision to possibly reduce the number of troops in the state.
Commenting on Home Minister P Chidambaram's announcement made on Wednesday in the Parliament, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah said, "The home minister has finally given the good news to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I congratulate the prime minister and state chief minister on this. Reduction in the number of troops in the state would definitely ease the tensions here and begin a new era of peace and development."
Among the other mainstream politicians to welcome the announcement was former state deputy chief minister and senior leader of the state opposition People's Democratic Party Muzaffar Hussain Beigh.
"We had demanded reduction in the number of troops when we were in power and also now when we are in the opposition. The union home minister's announcement is a welcome development," Beigh said.
Senior Congress party leader Abdul Gani Vakil has also welcomed the move and said "the Congress has pursued the policy of restoration of permanent calm in Jammu and Kashmir with extreme honesty".
Vakil added that the Congress under the leadership of United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised "Jammu and Kashmir, especially the youth, a secure future and the announcement of withdrawal of troops is first step in that direction".
"We do not believe in making announcements and pronouncements. Our mission is to return the state of Jammu and Kashmir whatever it has lost in the last 20 years of militancy," he said.
"Although we understand the gravity of situation and do realise the fact that troop reduction might be risk-oriented, we want to get closer to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The decision is a welcome step since it will pave way for permanent peace," Vakil said.A senior leader of the moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference refused to comment on the issue.