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‘Troop ratio in Kashmir better than Waziristan, Tibet’

Srinagar, January 26, 2008:

The ratio of troop deployment in Indian administered Kashmir is lesser than troops-civilian ratio in Tibet and the strife torn Waziristan region of Pakistan, the the governor of Indian administered Kashmir Lt Gen (Retd) General S K Sinha has said.

“The ratio of deployment of troops, army and paramilitary to population in the region excluding militancy-free Ladakh is 1 to 40. This is less than 1:37 in Wazirstan and 1:28 in Tibet,” Sinha said on eve of the Indian Republic Day.

In the Indian system of governance, the governor is considered federal government’s representative in the states.

The conflict-ridden Kashmir with an estimated 700,000 troops is considered to be the highest militarised region in peace times, though India does not reveal the exact number of its troops in the region.

Jammu and Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan and divided between the two by a ceasefire line. A portion of is also held by China.

India refuses to consider Kashmir a dispute and has fought three wars over it with Pakistan.

An anti-India insurgency, allegedly backed by Pakistan, broke out in Indian administered Kashmir in 1989.

Calls for right to self determination of Kashmiris have strengthened in the last two decades

In his address on the 58th Indian Republic Day (January 26) on the state run television, Sinha said that the Indian troops in Kashmir would return to barracks only when the insurgency in the region ends.

However he said that the Indian troops would not be moved from the borders along Pakistan and China.

He said that conditions in Pakistan were volatile having “risk of spilling over to our side”.

Sinha said that the number of people killed in violence in Kashmir had come down to two per day from 10 per day.

Praising Indian troops despite human rights violations in the region, he said, “It is difficult for a state to end human rights violations while countering insurgency just as it is impossible to eliminate murders from a civil society.”

He said that there were the odd black sheep who were tarnishing the image of Indian troops and paramilitary troops by committing excesses and atrocities.

Sinha said that the troopers found guilty are punished promptly and suitably but added that most allegations of human rights violations against them (troops) were false.

“Of the 1489 allegations in 18 years, only 34 were found to be true and disciplinary action was taken against 91 army personnel who were dismissed and given sentences of rigorous punishment up to 12 years,” claimed Sinha.

“In 2007 along with marked decrease in incidents of violence there was also marked decrease in the number of such allegations. Only 3 out of the 9 allegations made were found true after inquiry. The guilty are being court-martialed,” he said. “Disciplinary action is also being taken against their immediate superiors, for lack of adequate supervision.”

Human rights activists in the region are not satisfied with the government claims of action on human rights violators.

Khurram Pervez a human rights activist in Srinagar says the government is not transparent on what punishment it has given to whom.

“What we demand is that government makes public what is the punishment given to these perpetrators, who have been punished and for what cases. We know in the armed forces, people are suspended from services for a year or so or transferred to difficult postings. That is not punishment for rape that is not punishment for a custodial killing,” Pervez said.

Governor Sinha added that USA and Pakistan were getting a taste of their own medicine. “In the form of 9/11, USA has already suffered the consequences of what it supported for years. Pakistan is getting its doze now,” he added. “The USA has the resources and resilience to withstand the militant onslaught. Pakistan does not have the same capability.”



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