#Day45: BSF Re-enters Srinagar After 11 Years

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BSF man stand guard in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk.
Even after calling additional CRPF companies to man the seething streets of Kashmir, Delhi has now called BSF in Srinagar to manage the situation.

The force known for its “ruthless” anti-militancy operations in Kashmir during nineties was called a day after forces killed an orphan Irfan A Wani of Old City’s Fateh Kadal.

After fighting militants for 14 years, the Border Security Force (BSF) was replaced by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Kashmir in 2005.

The decision to relieve BSF from counter-insurgency duties was taken by the then BJP led NDA government after a group of ministers had recommended separate duties for various paramilitary forces. BSF troops had since been moved to their primary duty of guarding the Line of Control and international border.

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BSF made a comeback in Srinagar after locals saw them patrolling and manning a stretch between Radio Kashmir and Regal Lane. Some of the BSF men while chatting with newsmen sounded apprehensive of their safety: “Will people also come here to protest?”

The question apparently made newsmen to assume that the force known for its “hard-nosed” anti-militancy operations like Operation “Tiger” and “Catch and Kill” are anxious of their reinstallation.

Interestingly, a week before Kashmir erupted in pro-Burhan protests, Delhi had contemplated to replace CRPF with BSF in some areas of restive Kashmir. The move—a major offensive against militancy—was taken after the attack on CRPF bus in Pampore, which left eight security personnel dead and another 21 injured. Home Minister Rajnath Singh who visited Valley soon after the attack also gave feelers of the plan.

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Given the track record of BSF in combating militancy in 1990s, the government was seriously looking into the option. The BSF had killed 2,800 militants during its 14 years of engagement in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir. That comprised 100 top commanders, including the prized scalp of Gazi Baba, who was India’s most-wanted militant following the December 13, 2001, attack on the Parliament. The force had arrested 9,400 militants and 10,600 weapons were seized since ‘90s.

BSF is said to be more lethal force specialised in counterinsurgency than CRPF, which is mainly a crowd-controlling force.

While police termed the BSF deployment a “routine” affair, the BSF top brass refused to comment when asked: whether the BSF has been deployed to manage the situation in Kashmir?

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