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CRPF can't be withdrawn overnight: J&K CM

Source: PTI
Last updated on: July 07, 2009 12:02 IST
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Ruling out any immediate withdrawal of the Central Reserve Police Force from Jammu and Kashmir, state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that before considering any such step the state police must be augmented in numbers, equipment and levels of training.

Abdullah, who had meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi on Monday, said he had raised the issue of withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act in a phased manner.

Reorganisation of security forces figured during his meetings, Omar told PTI.

On the issue of withdrawal of CRPF from the state, he said the J&K police 'is not immediately ready' to fill all the gaps. 'The CRPF withdrawal has to be as per a plan' and simultaneously the state police will have to gear up to be at the forefront of the anti-militancy operations.

"We have over 70 battalions of the CRPF and the state police's strength is not even one-third of it. Five battalions of the state police, which include India Reserve Police are undergoing training. So any rash decision in this aspect can be detrimental to state's security," he said.

"A lot is required to be done in terms of augmenting the numbers of J and K police, upgrading their equipment and improving their levels of training," he said.

Abdullah made it clear that there was no move to replace CRPF in the near future as this may lead to a vacuum.

"The issue of AFSPA was flagged by me and the Union Home Minister in the first meeting itself and now we are toying with an idea of having it withdrawn in a phased manner. Where the violence is nil or bare minimum, in such areas this law need not be applicable," the chief minister, who has completed six months in office, said.

The chief minister said he had assured people in his state that AFPSA would be withdrawn.

"I have held a series of meetings earlier with the Union Home Minister. Even the Centre has said that it is reviewing the Act," he said.

While the chief minister remained non-committal about the areas where AFSPA would be made non-applicable, sources in the Home Ministry said the Centre was likely to explore possibility of phased withdrawal of the anti-terror law in two districts of Kashmir -- Srinagar and Budgam -- and two in Jammu region -- Jammu and Kathua -- as these districts have registered minimum violence for past one year.

The Home Minister, while unveiling the Action Plan-II of his ministry, had said earlier this month that the Centre has 'agreed to review AFSPA (in Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast). That review is underway. No decision has been taken yet'.

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