India will reduce its security forces by a quarter in restive Kashmir, where a two-decade insurgency has declined in intensity, the country's top home ministry official said Friday.
Speaking at a university seminar on Kashmir in the Indian capital, Home Secretary GK Pillai said the government was looking at cutting troops by "25 per cent in 12 months from populated areas."
"If we can manage with local police, that would be the most ideal situation, and this is one of the confidence-building measures -- that people don't get harassed by the over-presence of security forces," Pillai said.
"If peace comes, if violence is not there, people are comfortable, we can gradually reduce our presence and make sure that all forces are there only at the border for preventing infiltration."
A nearly 20-year-old insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir has claimed more than 47,000 lives, according to an official court, but deaths due to the violence are at their lowest level in more than a decade.