To those who quote random hyped-up numbers about the number of Indian security personnel deployed in J&K, because you have an agenda to push, do some research and get your facts right!
When it comes to Jammu and Kashmir, India has always been at the receiving end of massive propaganda machinery. As is to be expected, one of the major actors purveying anti-India propaganda and news is Pakistan. Pakistan has always been very good at using the offices of western journalists and myriad organizations to further its interest and paint India as an occupying force in Jammu & Kashmir. In fact, as the sordid saga of Ghulam Nabi Fai shows, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had even managed to influence noted Indian journalists, track-two specialists, and other self-proclaimed thinkers to further Pakistani interests at the expense of Indian concerns.
One of the pet propaganda theories which emanated long back from Pakistan is that India has 700,000 troops deployed in Kashmir valley with the express purpose of holding down the people of Kashmir. As Ajai Shukla notes in this piece on this very subject:
“Pakistani propaganda and Kashmiri human rights organizations, such as the influential J&K Coalition of Civil Society, repeatedly state that India controls Kashmir by deploying 700,000 security-men across the state. It is often alleged that half the Indian Army is based in J&K”
However, the situation has now further evolved. The latest number of Indian security personnel in Jammu & Kashmir is 1 million! Yes, that’s 1,000,000 troops deployed in Jammu & Kashmir with the express purpose to hold the local population, according to media that doesn’t much care about facts.
Some others have a more nuanced approach; they claim that 500,000 or half a million troops are deployed in Kashmir (as against Jammu & Kashmir) to hold the province and ‘subjugate’ the local population.
In this article, we look at the probable number of troops deployed in Jammu & Kashmir to handle both internal and external factors. The reason it is important to consider the external factor is because people tend to forget that the Indian Army is deployed at Line-of-Control primarily to prevent any attack by Pakistan Army to take Jammu & Kashmir by force. Counter-infiltration is just one part of their overall responsibility.
(1) Half a million or million troops in Kashmir? Says who?
Normally, it is the Pakistanis who comes with such fantastic numbers. And as a matter of fact, a couple of years back, they did come up with the fantastic number of 1 million Indian troops in Kashmir. In a report dated 30 November 2016, Dawn newspaper of Pakistan carried this headline:
However, this number did not then get much traction and seems to have died its natural death.
But the situation seems to have changed drastically ever since the Indian Government has announced the revocation of Article 370. It was widely reported in the press that the government had shifted a considerable number of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel to Jammu & Kashmir to tackle any fall-out of the decision, both in terms of Law & Order (L&O) as well as attempts by terrorists to disrupt peace in the state.
This accretion of CAPF personnel in J&K has been used by many journalists and news channels to proclaim absurd and fact-free numbers about the strength of Indian Army and other security personnel deployed in Jammu & Kashmir with the express purpose of ‘holding’ down the state.
First, let’s see who said what –
(1) Deccan Chronicle, Vikram Sharma – At the very top is this distinguished journalist and this newspaper which published this absolutely atrocious headline:
“Forces deploy 1 million to guard every inch of Kashmir valley”
There are some numbers thrown about in the article which do not make any sense in the context of the headline. Also, it seems nobody at Deccan Chronicle understand even basics of Mathematics. Because if they did, they would’ve realized that their own article shows that the number of CAPF personnel in J&K, even after factoring in the latest surge in numbers, is only 1,05,400. And that the normal strength of CRPF in the state is 60,000 (mentioned in the article itself)
So, where are the balance 8.946 Lakh troops? I guess the journalist wants the readers to figure that out!
By the way, this is not the only howler in the article. There’s more comedy here. Sample this from the article:
“On the International Border (IB), the BSF has a deployment of nearly 60,000 men which has also been increased in the last month”
First, Jammu & Kashmir shares ONLY 193 kilometers of International Boundary with Pakistan. This boundary runs from Jammu-Punjab border till the point where Line-of-Control (LOC) starts near Akhnoor. Pakistan calls it the Working
Boundary. On the Indian side, we’ve BSF manning the border while on Pakistan’s side, we have the Rangers. The LOC on both sides is manned by each country’s respective army.
Second, which part of the International Border is the journalist talking about? And where are these 60,000 troops?
And third, what has BSF deployment on International Border (IB) has to do with troops in Jammu & Kashmir or revocation of Article 370?
Against my better judgement, I’m hoping that the journalist does not mean that 60,000 BSF personnel are deployed in the narrow 193-kilometre Working Boundary/International Border.
(2) Asian Age, Vikram Sharma– Same journalist, same trash.
(3) The Wire, Farooq Shah– Well, how can ‘The Wire’ be left behind when it comes to peddling such nonsense? However, the author is slightly more nuanced, and we see the appearance of ‘half a million troops’:
“While India has started efforts to earn its permanent candidature, it can’t justify the presence of over half a million soldiers operating in Kashmir”
By the way, this ‘half-a-million’ nuanced appeared later. Initially, the article had another number. Guess what? Yes…..drum roll………1 million!
From the footnote of the same report:
“The figure for the number of army soldiers stationed in Kashmir is approximately half a million, and not a million as was stated in an earlier version of the article.”
I guess, someone realized that 1 million number is too much for even them to pull-off and reduced it by half. I mean, the last thing they expect is for anyone to check this number.
(4) Al Jazeera: When it comes to anti-India propaganda, how can Al Jazeera be behind? Here again, it repeats the same half-a-million number. Here is how it goes:
“Before India ended Kashmir’s special status and split it into two territories to be directly ruled by New Delhi, tens of thousands of Indian troops were deployed to curb a potential uprising, in addition to the half a million troops already stationed there”
(5) Then, you have the usual suspects – Forbes.com and The Guardian:
–Forbes.com, Mehrunnisa Wani:
“At first, 10,000 paramilitary troops were deployed to Indian-occupied Kashmir, augmenting the more than half a million troops already present.”
– The Guardian, Mirza Waheed:
“Not only that, it has effectively instituted mass detention of Kashmiris by rushing in thousands of troops in addition to the half a million already stationed there.”
Is it me or the language seems eerily similar when the number of troops is mentioned? This instance of quoting a random number of Indian security personnel in Jammu & Kashmir is a perfect example of an urban legend being perpetuated by vested interests. No one here has done any homework to understand the real picture.
And there is a reason behind the same – all of them are simply not interested! Because half-a-million or one-million troops fits perfectly well into the narrative of occupying forces, human rights violation, world’s-most-dangerous-place kind of nonsense that these worthies want to build.
So, what’s the reality? Let’s have a look.
(2) How many troops does Pakistan have in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir?
Whenever it comes to the topic of the number of troops which India has in Jammu & Kashmir, people forget that the main objective of Indian Army deployed in Jammu & Kashmir is to thwart any attack by Pakistan Army to capture the state, like it did in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1991. Not only that, but the Indian Army is also expected to take the fight into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and reclaim as much territory as possible.
The strength of the Indian Army deployed in J&K depends on multiple factors – the strength of the Pakistan Army on the other side, offensive and defensive objectives, geographical limitation etc.
Outside of military circles, no one to date has done any assessment of disposition of Pakistan Army in POK to explain the strength of the Indian Army. In this section, I present to you a short analysis of the strength and spread of Pakistan Army opposite to India in J&K sector. This will tell the readers of the kind of threat which the Indian Army needs to guard against.
What we term as POK, Pakistan has divided the same into two geographical segments. One is the Azad Jammu & Kashmir while the other is called as Gilgit-Baltistan. Of the total land area of POK, AJK comprises of only 15% while balance 85% area falls in Gilgit Baltistan. For political and geostrategic purposes, Pakistan has separated Gilgit-Baltistan from ‘Azad Jammu & Kashmir’ and maintains very tight control over the region.
(2.1) Order of Battle (ORBAT) – Pakistan Army
Pakistan Army has a considerable presence across POK. However, the bulk of the Pakistan Army in this sector is deployed in what Pakistan calls ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ opposite the Jammu region and Kashmir Valley.
Because the LOC in Gilgit-Baltistan region runs across the very high mountainous territory, and the region itself has few narrow valleys to permit east west or vice-versa movement of troops from both sides, the density of troop deployment is low. Geography of the region itself is expected to act as the main deterrent for any large-scale attack from India.
Rawalpindi based X Corps of Pakistan Army is responsible for the defense of the entire Kashmir front. This front extends from northern tip of Siachen Glacier to north of Jammu. There are three infantry divisions and one infantry division equivalent formation under the X Corps.
The break of Pakistan Army’s deployment in the region is as follows:
The location of X Corps, its infantry divisions, FCNA and some of the brigades is shown on the map below. Also, shown on the map is the location of corresponding Indian Corps HQs and divisions. I will be explaining the Indian Army deployment later in detail.
All the green coloured markers on the map represent the Pakistan Army while the blue-coloured ones represent the Indian Army. As against 17-18 infantry brigades of Pakistan Army in the region, for sake of clarity, I’ve marked the location of only 13 brigades.
For security purpose, except Siachen Brigade, I’ve not shown the location of Indian Army brigades but only those of Corps HQs and Infantry/Mountain Divisions deployed in J&K region.
From the map, you can make-out the spread of Pakistan Army arrayed against India in the region. Also visible is the fact that most of Pakistan Army infantry brigades are very close to LOC on their side. And it is also quite evident that there is very heavy deployment of the Pakistan Army in this sensitive area.
(2.2) Strength of the Pakistan Army
Now that we know the ORBAT of the Pakistan Army and its geographical spread in the region, let’s look at the strength of Pakistan Army. This will give you the context of Indian Army deployment in the J&K region across the LOC on the Indian side.
We can work out the strength of the Pakistan Army as follows:
- As the table shows, the Pakistan Army has 17 to 18 infantry brigades deployed against Jammu & Kashmir.
- Now, each infantry brigade generally has 3 x infantry battalions.
- But many of Pakistan Army brigades in the sector are over-strength i.e. they’ve between 4-6 infantry battalions.
- For the sake of convenience, let’s assume that each brigade has 4 x Infantry battalions.
- Total infantry battalions – 4 x 18 = 72
- Manpower per infantry battalion – 850
- Total fighting manpower – 850 x 72 = 61,200!
Please remember, this is only the fighting manpower. Each Infantry Division consists of fighting and support troops. Support troops include communication, engineers, logistics, transport, military police, medical facilities, artillery etc. Hence, the overall strength will be much higher than this number.
Total manpower of an infantry division is in 16,000-18,000. But since all formations of PA are over-strength, one can safely assume that divisions would be larger in size with average manpower being 20,000.
And in case of 12 Infantry Division, because it is almost equivalent to two infantry divisions, we can safely assume 50% more strength i.e. 30,000 troops. Add another 10% for various sundry organizations under Corps and Divisions and static formations.
Therefore, between the three-infantry division and FCNA, Pakistan Army has about 100,000 troops deployed in the region. It is my considered opinion that this number is still on the lower side and that to this total we can easily add another ~20,000 troops to cover for various static military installations and sundry formations.
So, the final tally of Pakistan Army deployment in what Pakistan calls AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) is 120,000 troops, which is almost 22% of the active Pakistan Army strength.
It is important to remember here that purely from military point-of-view, Pakistan Army has such a huge deployment in the region. Not to mention it DOES NOT face any terrorism or insurgency in the areas where these formations are deployed!
To this, I’ve yet not added the component of Mujahid Battalions. This force is trained on the lines of Territorial Army and its overall strength is 60,000. A high percentage of its battalion is deployed by Pakistan Army in AJK for defensive tasks.
If we add 30,000 more personnel from this unit, we’re talking about 150,000 Pakistan Army plus reserve troops in the region.
(3) Order of Battle (ORBAT) – Indian Army
Military operations in Jammu & Kashmir falls under the purview of Udhampur based Northern Command of the Indian Army. The Area-of-Responsibility (AOR) of Northern Command stretches from Himachal Pradesh-Tibet border to Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh to Siachen Glacier, then covering an area from Turtok to Kargil to Drass, western Kashmir till north of Jammu.
Northern Command under its ORBAT has three Corps HQs (14 Corps, 15 Corps and 16 Corps) and seven infantry/mountain divisions. Of these seven infantry/mountain divisions, one mountain division is Northern Command reserve, which is to be used as per requirement. Since, it stationed outside of J&K, it has not been considered in the workings.
The break-up of the Indian Army in J&K is given in the table below. It also includes the Indian Army’s commitment along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
- Without getting into brigade-level details, let’s consider the number of divisions in the J&K area.
- We have a total of 06 divisions, and we assume that each division has ~25,000 troops.
- So, in total, Indian Army deploys ~150,000 troops in the region in its six infantry/ mountain divisions from a purely military perspective.
- To this 150,000, add another 20% simply to cover various static formations and some other troops.
- This gives a total of ~180,000 troops in the entire J&K theatre from eastern Ladakh to Akhnoor.
- If we remove 3 Infantry Division and other formations dedicated to Eastern Ladakh, we’ll have a ball-park number of ~150,000 troops facing Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
Long story short, there is near parity between Indian and Pakistan Armies when it comes to troop strength deployed on either side of LOC and Siachen Glacier.
From the Indian Army’s perspective, these troops are required for offence/defense against Pakistan in the region. From time to time, some troops might be diverted to Counter-Insurgency Operations in the Valley but the same is a secondary role. Even if there is a complete absence of terrorism and insurgency in the Valley, these troops would be required to man the LOC.
(4) Type & Strength of Troops Deployed in Counter Insurgency Operations
The responsibility of Counter-Insurgency Operations (CI Ops) in the valley rests primarily with Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Jammu & Kashmir Police (J&K Police). Each of these organizations has a fixed set-up in J&K and their strength can be ascertained.
During specific events, like Amarnath Yatra and recent revocation of Article 370, these organizations are augmented with additional troops inducted from outside the state. For example, the Indian Army might divert formations from its conventional set-up for CI Ops or it might induct additional army units from outside the state. Similarly, companies of CRPF and other Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) like Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Shashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Border Security Force (BSF) are inducted into the state from other regions.
In this section, we first look at the standard strength of these organizations in J&K. Then, we also factor into account the surge in their numbers in context to the recent developments. All the information used in this analysis is based on open-source material.
(4.1) Rashtriya Rifles
Rashtriya Rifles, or RR as they’re more popularly known as forms the backbone of India’s CI Ops in J&K. RR consists of men and officers drawn entirely from the Indian Army, though for technical & budgeting reasons, it is placed under Home Ministry.
RR Units are a unique experiment by the Indian Army to create a fighting formation tailor-made for counter-insurgency operations. And by all accounts, this has been a successful experiment. From its inception to 2018, when it celebrated 25 years of continuous operations, it has neutralized 16,300 terrorists.
The structure of a RR battalion is as follows:
“Organizationally, RR is the only regiment where troops from the infantry and other arms and services operate under a single banner.
Each battalion with 1,200 troops has six rifle companies.
The infantry component comprises 60 per cent troops in four rifle companies.
Two rifle companies are from other arms chosen from field artillery, air defence artillery, armour, and engineers.
The remaining troops comprising Task-Oriented Teams from various services are meant to provide logistics back-up to an RR battalion.
These include each RR battalion having an engineers’ platoon, a signals’ platoon, a medical detachment, and elements from the Army Service Corps.
Because this force is employed for CI ops, it does not have heavy weapons like a regular infantry battalion and is without organic artillery”.
Today, RR is the largest counter-insurgency force in the world. The organizational structure of RR in J&K is as follows:
- There are 05 Counter- Insurgency Force (CIF) Headquarters in J&K which control all the RR units. These CIF Headquarters, in turn, are controlled by the two Corps HQs of the army.
- These Force HQs with their Area-of Responsibility (AOR) are as under:
- Kilo Force (K Force) – Kupwara, Baramula, Srinagar
- Victor Force (V Force) – Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Budgam
- Romeo Force (R Force) – Rajouri and Poonch
- Delta Force (D Force) – Doda
- Uniform Force (U Force) – Udhampur and Banihal
- Kilo and Victor Force are under Srinagar based 15 Corps while Romeo, Delta and Uniform Force are under Nagrota based 16 Corps.
- Each Force HQ has multiple Sectors under it. Each Sector is akin to a Brigade and is responsible for fixed geography.
- And each Sector controls between 3-4 RR Units which are spread across its AOR. These RR units dominate the rural and countryside areas and actively hunt for terrorists.
- Many of the RR units remain deployed under direct command and control of Army brigades and divisions, especially at the LoC
- Total Sectors HQ – 17
- Total no of RR battalions – 63
- Strength of each RR Battalion – 1,200
- Total Strength – 75,600
- Add ~4,000+ more for troops & officers manning Sector HQs, CIF HQs and other support paraphernalia
- Grand Total – 80,000 (approximate)
The main Counter-Insurgency force, which is responsible for almost all kinetic operations in J&K, is only 80,000 in total strength
(4.2) Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
CRPF plays an important role in the overall security grid in the state of J&K. Along with Jammu & Kashmir Police (JKP), it is responsible for maintaining the law & order in the urban areas in the state. It also provides security to major events like the Amarnath Yatra. Further, it works alongside the Indian Army and RR battalions during CI Operations. While RR battalions mainly carry out the kinetic operations, CRPF forms the immediate security ring around the encounter site.
The force has done a commendable job of handling stone-pelters and other such agitations in the Valley. And it has done this without giving in to massive provocation from the crowd and many times, at expense of its own life & limbs. Over last 2-3 years, we’re seen numerous videos of crowds heckling, misbehaving and even physically assaulting CRPF parties. Who, in spite of being armed, did not give in to provocation, took these abuses and rather than retaliating, kept their calm.
(4.2.1) CRPF Strength in the Valley
While the exact number of CRPF personnel deployed in J&K is not publicly available, it is possible to arrive at a ball-park figure basis snippet of information available in various news reports and data mentioned on the CRPF official website.
Before we proceed further, we need to understand that CRPF has a certain installed capacity in J&K which is permanently based in the state. Apart from this, based on the requirement(s), additional CRPF companies are inducted into the state from across the country. For example, during Amarnath Yatra and before the revocation of Article 370, there was a large-scale induction of CRPF companies into the state. In this section, we address the CRPF strength deployed in the J&K under both circumstances.
All the CRPF companies/battalions in J&K come under the Jammu & Kashmir Zone (J&K Zone) of the CRPF. This zone is responsible for states of J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Chandigarh. The organizational structure and exact deployment are given below. This information has been taken from the CRPF India website
- If we simply add-up all the battalions mentioned above (except for 23 additional battalions under Ops Kashmir from other CRPF Zones), we get a total of 93 CRPF battalions under J&K Zone.
- However, this is not the correct way because the number of CRPF battalions mentioned against each Sector also consists of additional battalions from other Sectors within J&K Zone which have been deputed to them.
- For example, 12 CRPF battalions from Northern Sector are deployed in J&K.
- After we remove these duplicate entries, we find that strength of CRPF Battalions and personnel in the state of Jammu & Kashmir is as under:
- CRPF Battalions from within J&K Zone of CRPF – 48
- CRPF Battalions from other Zones transferred to J&K – 23
- Total number of battalions – 71
- Troops/Battalion – 1,000
- Total CRPF Strength – 71,000
- The general number mentioned the strength of CRPF in the state is 65,000.
From example, this report from Economic Times dated 12 August 2019 states:
The Central Reserve Police Force has a permanent deployment of about 65 battalions for security and counter-terrorist duties in Jammu and Kashmir, while it has sent in about 120 fresh companies to the region to strengthen the internal security grid post the abrogation of provisions of Article 370. While a CRPF battalion has an operational strength of about 1,000 personnel, there are about 100 troops in a company.
So, it is quite possible that I’ve overestimated the strength of CRPF deployment in J&K. But I will let this stand because I’m trying here to understand what’s the maximum strength of Indian security forces in J&K and where does this number stand with respect to the much-touted ‘half a million Indian troops’ or its more outlandish cousin – 1 million soldiers!
(4.3) Indian Army
There was a time when the Indian Army had deployed substantial infantry assets in J&K for the express purpose of CI Operations. For example, 8 Mountain Division, which successfully fought the bulk of Kargil War, was initially deployed in Kashmir Valley for CI Ops. This division had been moved from North-East in the early 90s for this task. When the Kargil War happened, it was the first responder and went on to do the bulk of the fighting under the able leadership of Major General Mohinder Puri (later Lt General).
However, today, while overall command & control of CI Ops remains with the army leadership, it is the Rashtriya Rifles which shoulders the main responsibility of CI Operations. The army might temporarily reassign troops from its formations in the Kashmir Valley for CI Ops, but this does not represent an increase in deployment of the army in Kashmir Valley. These troops have already been accounted for in the conventional strength of the army in J&K.
Though, at times, the army does induct troops from outside to handle situations. For example, as per one report in Economic Times (8th August 2019), the Indian Army had moved an infantry brigade from North-East to Kashmir to strengthen the Counter-Infiltration grid along the LOC.
Similarly, a brigade worth of troops had been inducted in South Kashmir when the area had started to heat-up in recent past.
For this study, we’re assuming that the Indian Army has inducted 3 infantry brigades into Kashmir for CI Ops. While two of these have been accounted for through news articles, we’re assuming one more brigade just for contingency.
Indian Army strength dedicated to CI Ops:
- Brigades – 03
- Battalions/Brigade – 3
- Men/Battalion – 850
- Total Manpower – 3 x 3 x 850 = 7,650
- Let’s round that off to 8,000 men
(4.4) Other Central Armed Police Forces
Apart from CRPF, another major CAPF is Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Shashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Assam Rifles.
BSF, ITBP and SSB are mainly responsible for guarding Indian borders and each force is responsible for a specific geography. For example, BSF guards India’s international border with Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. ITBP is responsible for Indo-Tibetan border while SSB looks after India-Nepal boundary.
While no definite account is available of their involvement in CI Ops in Kashmir, it is highly likely that their deployment in Kashmir for this task is zero to negligible. The main reason being that these forces are trained and deployment for a sensitive mission on the borders and can’t spare many troops for other tasks.
However, what is known as BSF deploys 12 battalions along LOC in J&K and that these battalions are under control of the Indian Army.
Even in the recent surge of troops in J&K before abrogation of Article 370, of the 380 companies of CAPF deployed, only 50 have come from ITBP, BSF and SSB. Even here, SSB is contributing 30 of the 50 companies with ITBP and BSF contributing only 10 companies each. For this analysis, we’ve considered only the recent induction of BSF, ITBP and SSB companies into the state.
(5) Periodic Surge in Numbers
As previously mentioned, more companies/battalions of CRPF are inducted into the Valley if there is a specific development. We look at three such events –
- Pulwama Attack –GOI has moved additional 100 companies of CRPF into the state after the Pulwama suicide bombing attack on CRPF convoy on 14 February 2019.
- Amarnath Yatra –As per various media reports, CRPF had deployed 40,000 personnel for providing security and logistics to the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims. This consisted of troops already in Kashmir as well as those inducted from outside the state for this specific task
This report from Hindustan Times, dated June 11, 2018, gives the details:
“There is already a permanent deployment of more than 45,000 personnel from the central paramilitary forces…During the Amarnath Yatra, the Centre will deploy around 225 companies (around 22,500 troops) of central forces along the yatra route. Last year, the additional central deployment was around 175 to 180 companies. This year we have posted around 5,000 more boots on the ground to secure the route,” said a home ministry official on the condition of anonymity.”
For the sake of this study, we assume that GOI had moved 225 companies or additional 22,500 CRPF personnel into the state and further, that these continue to be deployed in J&K.
- Article 370 Abrogation – Before the news about the abrogation of Article 370 was announced, GOI had moved in many Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) companies into the state. In fact, there were two separate news about induction of CAPF. While it was first reported than 100 companies or 10,000 personnel are being inducted, it was followed by second news about additional 280 companies, on top of 100 companies already mentioned, to be moved in J&K.
While the break-up of 100 companies is available in terms of which CAPF they belong to, the break-up of balance 280 companies is not available. Break-up of 100 companies is as follows:
- CRPF – 50 (5,000 men)
- SSB (Shashastra Seema Bal) – 30 (3,000 men)
- ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) – 10 (1,000 men)
- BSF (Border Security Force) – 10 (1,000 men)
- Total – 100 Companies/10,000 men
Coming to the 280 companies, as per one report in Hindustan Times, most of these troops are from CRPF. For the sake of this study, we assume that all of them are from CRPF. As it is, for the purpose of this study, the break-up does not matter because we’re trying to look at the overall number of Indian security personnel in J&K.
Final surge numbers:
- After Pulwama: 100 companies (10,000 men)
- Amarnath Yatra: 225 companies (22,500 men)
- Article 370 abrogation: 50+280 companies (33,000 men)
- SSB (Shashastra Seema Bal) – 30 companies (3,000 men)
- ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) – 10 companies (1,000 men)
- BSF (Border Security Force) – 10 companies (1,000 men)
- Total – 705 Companies/70,500 men
(6) So, what’s the final number of troops deployed in Counter Insurgency Operations?
Let’s consider the man-power strength across all the organizations involved in CI Ops in J&K as mentioned in this analysis so far. Also, I’m going to consider the latest numbers after the surge in troop strength due to various events mentioned earlier.
The numbers look like this:
- Rashtriya Rifles – 80,000 men
- CRPF (before surge) – 71 battalions/710 companies (71,000 men)
- CRPF (after surge) – 655 companies (65,500 companies)
- Indian Army – 3 x Infantry Brigades (9 Infantry battalions) – 8,000 men
- Other CAPF – 50 companies (5,000 men)
- Grant Total: 2,29,500 personnel
Now, this is a far cry from ‘half a million’ troops in J&K that every self-proclaimed defender of human rights and liberty has been shouting about.
And mind you, this is the maximum surge number where I’ve liberally inflated some number to ensure we don’t leave out anything. And I’m very sure there is double counting happening here especially with respect to the strength of CRPF companies. The reason being, I’ve assumed that every company CRPF which was deployed to the valley over 9-10 months has stayed put in J&K. When the more possible situation is that many of these CRPF companies would’ve rotated out of the state on completion of their duties.
One more aspect of the current distribution of strength of security personnel is that today CRPF constitutes 60% of total security personnel in the state. While RR continues to lead the operations, we’ve come a long way when a mix force of RR and the Indian Army used to man every aspect of CI Ops. ‘Additional’ in the chart below means troops inducted into the state for specific events. These are the surge troops.
(7) But isn’t this number large enough already?
The number needs to be seen in the context of the situation on the ground. Security forces must manage a very large geographical area which varies from the flat valley floor of Kashmir to high mountain ranges of Shamshabari and Pir Panjal Range. In addition to it, the Kashmir Valley is densely populated with a cluster of villages at a short distance from each other. Troops must dominate both the urban/rural areas as well as hinterland. The objective is to not give any freedom of movement to the terrorists.
Let’s consider some numbers. The combined area of Jammu Division and Kashmir Division of the erstwhile state of J&K is 42,241 sq. km. This is slightly larger than the area of the Netherlands. And in terms of population, the combined population this geography is 12.258 million (source: Wikipedia).
So, many troops are required? Again, going back to an article by Colonel Ajai Shukla(retd):
“The US military’s counterinsurgency doctrine, based on its experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, recommends a force level of 20 security personnel for every thousand local people in the operational zone”
Now, dividing the population numbers given above (12.258 million) with the number of troops deployed in CI Ops that we’ve just calculated (2,29,500 personnel), we get a ratio of 53.5.
Long story short, even the maximum surge level deployment of Indian security personnel in J&K, considering the geographical, population and political aspects is quite reasonable. When the troops inducted for specific purposes like recent induction of CAPF before the revocation of Article 370 will move away from J&K, this ratio will further improve.
It is nobody’s argument that ideally, there should not be any troops, whether Rashtriya Rifles or CRPF or Indian Army, on the streets and hinterland of J&K. However, for that to happen, we will have to reach a level where there’s no Pakistan backed and home-grown terrorism in the region. The Indian state simply cannot afford to give any space to such elements and consequently, this requires security forces to dominate the rural areas and maintain a presence in urban areas.
While Pakistani backed terrorism is unlikely to go away anytime soon, it is expected that with the recent reorganization, and resultant development in the region, more locals will be aligned with India. And this will dampen any fissiparous tendencies.
Finally, to those who quote random hyped-up numbers about the number of Indian security personnel deployed in J&K, because you have an agenda to push, do some research and get your facts right!
[This article was first published at OpIndia.com on 28th August, 2019]