Local protests in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) are ensuring the exit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). CRPF began withdrawing from Baramulla in the state last week. The Union government terms it “rationalization” of paramilitary force deployment. It is an open secret that its hand has been forced.
This will not serve the state government in any manner. If the Central forces are withdrawn, the militants stand a good chance of moving in. The state police is in no shape to take over. That could set the stage for the wiping out of recent gains such as the successful installation of the Omar Abdullah government and the relative calm in the state.
That would be a costly trade-off: Winning hearts and minds in J&K should not be done at the cost of deteriorating security there. The cost of re-establishing control if the situation gets out of hand is not worth the purchase of public sentiments. Let us hope the Union and state governments are cognizant of that.