Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane claimed on Tuesday that the security situation in restive Jammu and Kashmir has improved, after the repeal of Article 370 in early August 2019.
The federal government on 5 August 2019 revoked Article 370 of the Constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and also dividing the state into two federally administered territories.
Although several restrictions have been lifted as the situation in Kashmir stabilised, several political leaders including three former Chiefs of the former state – Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are still in the preventive custody of security forces.
General Naravane also confirmed that two battalions of the army have already been withdrawn from the most volatile and sensitive regions of the northeastern state of Assam, which has witnessed decades of secessionist violence.
A tribal insurgent group- Bodos, demanding a separate state since the mid-1980s waged an armed struggle against the provincial and federal governments. But the government succeeded in negotiations and signed a peace agreement with a group of militant organisations on Monday 27 January.
The Army Chief promised that once the tribal Bodos completed elections for their autonomous territory as provided by the pact, additional troops would be withdrawn from the region and there would be a shift away from counter-insurgency operations.
“Two battalions have been already taken out. Once the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections are over, we will reduce more troops. In the next 2-2.5 years we will concentrate fully on conventional warfare in the northeast rather than on counter-insurgency operations,” he said on Wednesday.
The Bodos, the earliest settlers in Assam, are the largest ethnic group in northeastern India with 1.3 million people. The Bodo insurgency began in 1947 with the demand for better social, political and economic conditions, as they claimed the non-tribal population of Assam had neglected them.