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Paramilitary forces rushed to J&K as Centre anticipates Pakistan’s ‘violent reaction’

Withdrawal of separatists’ security, Jamaat arrests, elections also led to deployment of reinforcements in Kashmir.

The Centre has rushed additional forces of about 10,000 central armed police force (CAPF) personnel and “urgently deployed” them to further fortify the Kashmir Valley amid apprehensions of a reaction from Pakistan to the multiple “indirect and direct actions” taken by the government in the wake of the Pulwama attack.

One reason cited is the possibility of a violent reaction by Pakistan to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s recent remark that “India will not allow its share of water from the Indus network of rivers to flow into Pakistan.”

The withdrawal of security cover for separatist politicians in Kashmir as well as the arrest of members of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a socio-religious group, have also contributed to the Centre’s decision to send the additional forces, said a senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Also, with the general elections barely a couple of months away, the movement of extra personnel had been advanced so that security forces could dominate areas and elections be held “fearlessly”, the official said.

About 65,000 CAPF personnel comprising CRPF, BSF, SSB and ITBP are presently deployed in the Valley, apart from the army and J&K police.

Pakistan vacating villages

“Pakistan has created a perception that India is going to wage a war; to validate this mischief, Pakistan has asked its villages, located close to the border, to vacate,” said the official. “We cannot take them at face value but we are preparing our defence,” the official added.

In at least 16 locations in Srinagar and around the area, CRPF, which had been deployed for “static duties”, was being replaced by the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). A senior CRPF official said this was being done so that the CRPF could be made available for other “law and order duties.”

On Friday, in a fax message addressed to J&K’s chief secretary and others, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said, “we have to urgently deploy additional CAPFs in Jammu and Kashmir. It is requested to provide 100 companies of CAPFs to Government of J&K with immediate effect.” A company comprises approximately 100 personnel.

MHA said apart from 45 companies of CRPF, 35 of BSF, 10 of SSB and 10 companies of ITBP shall also be arranged.

At least 37 CRPF personnel were killed on February 14 when a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) suicide bomber rammed his car into a CRPF bus in Pulwama.

“There are general inputs that JeM may plan more strikes,” said the official. “Pakistan has an outreach in the Valley and they don’t require more than two-three people to carry out a spectacular strike. The additional force will also help us in planning operations better.”

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