In the days leading up to August 5 and the scrapping of special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir state, the Valley witnessed the highest deployment of security forces yet. By August 5, nearly 430 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) were deployed in the state, including personnel from the CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB and CISF.
The normal deployment in the Valley is about 200 CAPF companies in addition to Indian Army and J&K Police. Each company has about 100 personnel. The deployment of almost 230 companies was done in the months leading up to August 2019 to provide security for the panchayat and urban local body elections held in September 2018, followed by preparations for Lok Sabha elections in May 2019 and then the Amarnath Yatra.
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Post-August 5, the CAPF deployment increased to 653 companies. Of these, about 20 companies have left in recent weeks, and been redeployed elsewhere. While forces were deployed only during the day prior to the clampdown in Kashmir, “there is, since August 5, a stringent day and night deployment throughout Kashmir”, a senior official in the security establishment, who did not wish to be identified, said.
Top security officials told The Indian Express that this year’s security presence — as on date — “surpasses deployment in Kashmir in the 1990s”. Separating numbers for each force — CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB and CISF — was not always possible since “most of the deployment is being done without written orders”.
This is attributed to the increase in law and order incidents alongside anti-militancy operations, said an official familiar with the movement of troops over the last few years in the state. Additionally, “the strength in terms of sheer number of forces has also increased over the last 15 years and that helps augment security presence in the valley”, a source told The Indian Express.
“Up until 2008, anti-militancy activity was just operations, but post-2008, the law and order aspect to militancy increased significantly with people’s involvement at encounter sites. The law and order aspect in J&K has become much more serious than the actual militancy,” the official said.
However, previous episodes such as 1991, Lok Sabha elections in 1996, and the Kargil war of 1999, Operation Parakram and the post-Parliament attack scenario in 2001 also saw heightened security presence across the state.
CRPF personnel posted at various locations in the Valley have told The Indian Express that in the initial phase of deployment post-August 5, “leave applications for home visits were not being approved. Only recently we have been allowed to proceed on leave,” an official said.
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