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30,000 troops withdrawn from J&K but AFSPA to stay: Antony

Last updated on: December 18, 2009 16:09 IST
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With the situation 'improving' in Jammu and Kashmir, the government on Friday said it has withdrawn two army divisions, comprising 30,000 men, from the state but made it clear that the operation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act there could not be revoked at present.

However, it favoured 'detailed discussion' to bring about some modifications in the controversial act.

"Indian Army, by their own initiatives, have withdrawn two divisions (30,000) from J-K. Last year, they withdrew one, and this year the second division was withdrawn. They have been withdrawn because the situation has improved," Defence Minister A K Antony told mediapersons on the sidelines of a seminar on human rights in New Delhi.

Antony said whenever the state government felt that it could manage without the army, more forces could be pulled out, but as long as the army was deployed in the state, it would need AFSPA to operate there.

"Without special powers, they will not be able to act effectively," he said, adding that the government itself wanted to further reduce the 'visibility and presence' of the armed forces in the state with the improvement in the situation.

The defence minister also said there could be a 'detailed discussion for some modifications here and there' in the act.

Crediting the armed forces' presence for the improved situation in the state, he said, "Because of the presence of armed forces and their dedication and hard work, we have been able to prevent terrorists' attempts (to strike). That is why in J-K, for the first time, situation is improving and the number of infiltrations and violent instances are also declining."

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