CRPF Can't be Withdrawn Overnight: Omar

New Delhi
CRPF Can't be Withdrawn Overnight: Omar
Ruling out any immediate withdrawal of CRPF from Jammu and Kashmir, state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said before considering any such step the state police has to be augmented in numbers, equipment and levels of training.

Abdullah, who had meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram yesterday, said he had raised the issue of withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 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 includes 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&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flagged by me and the Union Home Minister in the first meeting itself and now we are toying with an idea of having it withdrawn in a phased manner...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The Chief Minister said he had assured people in his state that AFPSA will be withdrawn..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."

Chidambaram’s attention had been drawn to reports of several committees favouring withdrawal of AFSPA and he had said that "there are a number of suggestions from different quarters. There are suggestions to restrict the area of application of AFSPA. There are suggestions to amend AFSPA. All this is under consideration. No decision has been taken yet."

Asked about the recent strikes in Kashmir valley over the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian, the Chief Minister said the matter was with the Jan Commission and hopefully it will submit its report soon.

"I think the law has been followed...The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has given directions which are being adhered to in letter and spirit,” he said and added that "we are doing whatever is necessary. People of the area should also cooperate."

Referring to his meeting with the Prime Minister, Abdullah said he also discussed the issue of extension of PM's Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) till the end of 11th Plan in 2011-12 so that the bigger projects like strengthening of Transmission and Distribution network and Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana requiring more time will be completed.

Certain projects like conservation of Tsomoriri, Mansar and Wular lakes are yet to be taken up and he sought sanction for PMRP II based on State-specific projects.

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