No need for additional troops in IOK, says Indian army chief

Gen Bipin Rawat 's comments come day after seven Hindu pilgrims were killed in attack


News Desk July 12, 2017
Kashmiri protestors clash with Indian government forces after Eid prayers in downtown Srinagar on June 26, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Indian army chief has said the occupied forces will not need any additional troop deployment to secure the route of Amranath Yatra, a two-month long annual pilgrimage, in held Kashmir.

General Bipin Rawat's comments came as he landed in held Srinagar on Tuesday to review the security situation in the aftermath of Monday’s attack which left seven Hindu pilgrims dead and 14 others injured in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Six Hindu pilgrims killed in IOK attack

“Additional troops have already been deployed ahead of the Yatra [pilgrimage] and the Ramazan season. There is generally no need for any additional troops,” The Hindu quoted a senior Indian military official as saying.

Hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims trek over mountain trails to reach Amarnath caves, around 3,900 metres above sea level, in Indian-held Kashmir every year. The devotees worship the natural ice formation at the caves as a symbol of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.

The Indian army had deployed five additional battalions or about 5,000 soldiers in addition to around 500,000 troops, already deployed in the region since 1989, to ensure peace during the two-month long pilgrimage. The pilgrimage has previously been the target of militants, with more than 30 pilgrims killed in 2000.

Tight security for Hindu pilgrimage in Indian Kashmir

Clashes occur frequently in the disputed region between separatist groups and the occupied forces. The groups want independence or a merger with Pakistan for the majority Muslim region, which has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. However, both countries claim the territory in full.

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