India to boost paramilitaries in Kashmir

India plans to increase the strength of its paramilitary force in Kashmir, making it the largest deployment of irregular troops anywhere in the world.

    Professional troops in Kashmir will be replaced by paramilitaries

    Kanwaljeet Singh, director of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), told reporters on Tuesday the civilian-soldier service aimed at deploying a further 42 battalions each consisting of about 1000 men.

    "While 22 battalions are already under training, 20 more will be raised shortly. This will make CRPF the largest paramilitary force in the world with a total of 200 battalions."
      
    The additional troops would enable the force to take a much stronger grip on the disputed Himalayan province, replacing border security guards and even elite commando units stationed in the interior parts of the state.
      
    "After replacing the 54 battalions of the Border Security Force in the valley in a phased manner over a year, the CRPF will be the only force to be engaged in counter insurgency operations," Singh added.
      
    Military might

    India feels paramilitaries can
    police better than regular troops

    Indian army officials have often said frontline troops should not be deployed in Kashmir as they have not been trained for dealing with rebellion.
      
    Singh said the paramilitary was equipping itself for the task with new equipment such as mobile bunkers, light bullet-proof gear, night vision binoculars, explosive detecting devices and light automatic rifles.
      
    Singh said the mobile bunkers would be used to deploy quick response teams to combat Kashmiri separatists.
      
    Part of the training includes how to avoid "human rights violations," a charge levelled frequently against Indian troops in Kashmir by rights activists.
      
    Violence had eased in Kashmir since India and Pakistan reached a 26 November ceasefire though recent events have witnessed the death of  70 in one week.
      
    More than 40,000 people have died in the insurgency since 1989, according to official Indian figures. Separatists put the death toll between 80,000 and 100,000.

    SOURCE: AFP


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