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SOURCE: THE PRINT

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has sought land in Jammu and Kashmir to establishment permanent camps for its battalions, stating that it is not expecting any reduction in deployment of its troops due to constant Pakistani “shenanigans” in the region.

A meeting for the identification and transfer of land to establish Battalion Camping Sites or BCSs in both divisions of the union territory was held at the Ministry of Home Affairs last week, and was attended by senior ministry officials as well as those from the CRPF, the J&K Police and the administration of the union territory.

Sources at the Centre and in the J&K government said directions have been issued for such requests to be expeditiously disposed of.

“The J&K government will expeditiously dispose of requisitions made by the CRPF after it places indent (seeks land) according to its requirements. These requisitions are considered important and are to be dealt with in a time-bound manner,” a senior J&K government functionary told ThePrint, adding that several departments of the UT administration are involved in the process.

Why CRPF needs permanent camps
The meeting was held after the CRPF, in a communication to Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla on 17 August, stated that despite the magnanimity and support of Ministry of Home Affairs to upgrade infrastructure, a majority of CRPF camps are not designed to house battalion headquarters.

The communication, sent by CRPF director general A.P. Maheshwari, stated: “Given our huge deployment in J&K since a very long time, which due to Pakistan’s shenanigans is not likely to reduce dramatically, in the foreseeable future, a strong case is made out for CRPF to have permanent BCS (Battalion Camping Sites), in key locations.”

The communication, a copy of which was accessed by ThePrint, says the proposed BCSs are not only intended to create adequate infrastructure for CRPF troopers, but also to provide limited family accommodation in the nature of holiday homes to address the issue of troop morale and separation from their families.

“Not only would these proposed BCSs have secure defences, but also adequate and appropriate infrastructure for our personnel, which would increase efficiency. Besides, we intend to create limited family accommodation in the nature of holiday homes in these BCS to house the visiting families of our personnel, by rotation, to address the issue of morale and long separation,” the communication stated.

There are currently 61 CRPF battalions in J&K, plus three mahila (women’s) companies, and 236 additional companies.

Proposed locations
The CRPF has provided a list of nine locations in the Jammu region and 20 in Kashmir where the proposed BCSs are to be established. The locations in Jammu include in Ramban district, where the CRPF has sought 41.77 acres (334 kanal) of land. Its requests for Kathua, Jammu, Udhampur, Doda, Reasi and Rajouri are unspecified.

In Kashmir, the CRPF has identified 20 locations in Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Baramulla, Kupwara, Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian. It wants around 8 acres in Srinagar’s Zakura area, around 5 acres in Ganderbal, 5 acres in Pulwama’s Kakpora area and around 7 acres in Qazigund. Eight of the 20 locations in Kashmir are in southern part of the Valley, while the rest are in central and north Kashmir.

“It is the responsibility of the state to give accommodation to the CRPF or other paramilitary forces. We have approached the MHA, and now the matter is between the ministry and the J&K government,” said a senior CRPF officer, requesting anonymity.

A second senior CRPF officer said: “Pakistan’s interference in the region by sponsoring insurgency and infiltrating militants is part of a larger plan to destabilise J&K. The CRPF has been at the forefront of upholding law and order in J&K. It’s a challenging task, but the force has given exemplary results, and naturally, Pakistan is likely to be more aggressive. It is thus required that our troops are provided with ample means to defend the region.”