Kashmir on edge as India deploys 10,000 fresh troops

SRINAGAR (India) • Tensions in Indian-administered Kashmir rose yesterday over the deployment of at least 10,000 paramilitary troops to the troubled region, despite the authorities' assertions that the move was routine.

India maintains a deployment of 500,000 soldiers in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region, which has been divided between the South Asian nation and Pakistan since their split in 1947.

The region has seen a resurgence of hostilities in recent years, while locals are fearful about the loss of special privileges after India's Supreme Court last year began hearing a case challenging a Constitutional provision.

Officials said that the movement of troops - set to rise to 20,000 - over the weekend was to relieve exhausted personnel who have been deployed since local civic polls last year.

"Troops have been working constantly for seven months. Some have to go on leave and some for training outside," Director-General of Police Dilbagh Singh told Agence France-Presse.

A senior security official told AFP the deployment was to guard against possible protests about a decision or event, but did not give further details.

Locals told AFP they were worried that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government wanted to set aside a Constitutional provision, Article 35A, which would allow Indians from outside the disputed territory to buy land there.

India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir, a part of which is also controlled by China, for decades.

 

In February, a suicide bombing claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group killed 41 Indian troops in Kashmir, prompting tit-for-tat airstrikes between the two countries.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2019, with the headline 'Kashmir on edge as India deploys 10,000 fresh troops'. Print Edition | Subscribe