India plans to pull army from Kashmir

June 12, 2009 at 8:16 AM

NEW DELHI, June 12 (UPI) -- India plans to withdraw its troops from counterinsurgency operations in Kashmir, for years a disputed territory and battlefield, India's home minister says.

The plan is to make local police responsible for internal security of the Indian-administered state, Palaniappan Chidambaram told the BBC. He gave no date, however, for withdrawal of soldiers who are said to number in the hundreds of thousands.

Chidambaram said the army was responsible for guarding the borders and stopping infiltration, preferably "in areas far from towns and cities."

Kashmir has been a major trouble area for India and Pakistan for more than half a century. It has been the scene of two of their three wars and the site of a Muslim separatist insurgency since 1989.

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