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Kashmir Police readying for troop reduction

Srinagar, April 07, 2007 (Kashmir Newz Desk) :

With talks of demilitrisation in the air, the Jammu and Kashmir Police is raising four battalions to be ready for the takeover of troops from the conflict-ridden Indian administrated Kashmir.

"It is only a matter of numbers," the state police chief Gopal Sharma told reporters here Saturday afternoon.

"We have already started the recruitment drive for raising the battalions. Raising one battalion takes one year. Besides we are also proposing to raise some extra battalions for recruiting more police personnel in our ranks so that we can fight insurgency single handedly," Sharma said about the take over of army and paramilitary troops by police.

Sharma's statement was a guarded but a strategic one with the talk of the withdrawal of troops around the corner.

However, he said that there was no difference between police, army and paramilitary troops adding the only difference in them was the colour of the uniform.

About the manpower requirement of police in the state, he said, "In the past few years, more than 18,000 militants have been released. If only 5 per cent of them return to militancy, it is a substantial number. To counter the militants, we need to maintain a good numbers of police personnel."

However, Sharma said there was no need to read too much about the level of violence going down in the past few months.

"As has been witnessed in the past, the violence comes down during the winter and with the rise in temperatures, the violence also increases. The number of militancy-related incidents has come down over the past few months due to several factors including rains and snowfall.

"Last year, they relied on grenade attacks, car bombs and few Fidayeen attacks. We are anticipating similar tactics from them this summer," the DGP said.

He said militants were planning to launch coordinated attacks in the state, particularly in Srinagar, the summer capital of the Indian administrated Kashmir when the Darbar (the secretariat) moves from Jammu, the winter capital, to Srinagar.

Sharma said that militants were thinking of launching coordinated attacks in the summer capital to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the past few months during which the violence in the state has touched the lowest ebb.

He said that intelligence reports with the police had revealed that militants were attempting to regroup and launch coordinated attacks to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the past few months.

He said police had received specific information that militants of Al Badr and Lashkar-e-Toiba outfits had met in the higher reaches of the Harwan Srinagar locality, to chalk out a strategy for carrying out Fidayeen attacks in the city when the secretariat move from Jammu to Srinagar later this month.

Sharma said that one of these groups had managed to descend into Nishat locality to establish a base for carrying out Fidayeen attacks in Srinagar.

The area was cordoned off and three militants of Al Badr including its divisional commander, who is a Pakistani national, were killed Friday, Sharma said adding, the other group of LeT militants, had fled towards Dachigam area.

He said the operation at Nishat on Friday was surgical in nature as all the civilians were evacuated to safer places before launching an offensive on the militants and least possible damage was caused to the house where they were hiding.

About allegations of army hampering the probe into the alleged fake encounter of five civilians, Sharma said investigation would be taken to its logical conclusion.

"Nobody can stop us from investigating the cases. The investigation would be taken to its logical conclusion," he said.

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