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Govt to reduce troops in J&K

Thursday 11 November 2004

NEW DELHI: India announced it would reduce troop levels in Jammu and Kashmir due to the improved situation in the state, a move that meets a major demand of separatist groups - as also of Pakistan.

"In recognition of the improvement in the situation in the state, the government has decided to reduce deployment of troops this winter," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in an unexpected statement.

The statement came after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the highest security policy planning body of the government, and ahead of his planned visit to Kashmir Wednesday.

Manmohan Singh, however, said there would be no relaxation in keeping vigil on the borders and troops would be redeployed if required.

"We cannot afford to relax our vigil. We are aware that infiltration attempts from across the border and the LOC (Line of Control) continue and the infrastructure of terrorism in the shape of training camps and launching bases remains intact," he said.

"The decision to reduce the deployment of troops would, therefore, be kept under constant review. If the levels of infiltration and terrorist violence increase, more troops as necessary will be redeployed," the prime minister added.

The announcement did not specify the areas in which troops will be reduced or their numbers.

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