India deploys 10,000 troops in insurgency-hit Kashmir

Indian army officers paying tribute on the 20th anniversary of the Kargil Victory Day in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir, on July 26, 2019. India is moving an additional 10,000 paramilitary personnel to the troubled region. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW DELHI (DPA) - The Indian government is moving 10,000 paramilitary forces to the troubled northern state of Jammu and Kashmir to strengthen anti-insurgency operations, media reports said on Saturday (July 27).

The decision to send the troops came after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval returned from a visit to the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, where he had reviewed the security situation with senior officials.

An order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs said the additional forces were being deployed to strengthen the "counter-insurgent grid" and maintain law and order, broadcaster NDTV reported.

Troops were being airlifted from various parts of the country to the strife-torn state.

The troop deployment comes amid a security offensive by Indian forces and a call by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for Islamist militants to step up attacks in the region.

The Indian government has never released any figures, but unofficial estimates indicate the presence of between 300,000 and 500,000 troops in Jammu and Kashmir, including paramilitary and police forces.

The disputed Himalayan region is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

The neighbours have fought two wars over it since their independence from British rule in 1947.

India-administered Kashmir has been the site of a deadly secessionist movement since the 1980s. India claims Pakistan aids and abets Kashmiri militants, a charge the latter denies.

Home ministry officials say the security situation has improved, noting that 126 militants have been "neutralised" between Jan 1 and July 14, and that militant-related violence in the first half of the year declined 28 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.

Seventy-five security personnel died in the region during that period, 40 of whom were killed in a suicide bombing by a Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed militant in February.

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