Home secretary GK Pillai said on Friday the government intended to reduce the security forces' strength by 25% in Jammu and Kashmir.
Army chief Gen VK Singh reacted by saying he was unaware of any plans for a troop cut. Pillai later told HT the army's deployment in populated areas was minimal and it was the government's policy to progressively reduce troop presence as the situation improved.
"Army deployment on the border and in anti-infiltration operations will not be affected," he said. Pillai said the state government was reviewing areas declared as disturbed and as and when these were removed from that list, the army would have to move out.
Gen Singh said, "We are not yet aware of what plan they have made for this so called reduction. I am sure this will be done in consultation because there is a unified headquarters in the state."
He said it would have to be ensured there was no extra pressure on the army's "already stretched deployment."
He said the army did not feel the need to cut down its presence in the state.
"If they want to cut down para-military and police forces, I won't say anything," he said.
Singh said the army would ensure that the sacrifices made by soldiers in the state didn't go in vain.
"The areas they cleared should not become terrorist-infested again," he said.
The army lost 187 soldiers, including 15 officers, in counter-terrorism operations in J&K and the Northeast last year.
Asked why the army was opposed to trial of soldiers accused in the alleged Machil fake killings in civil courts, Gen Singh indicated the atmosphere in the valley was not conducive to fair trial of soldiers accused of wrongdoings.
He said, "I don't know how much you are aware about the legal system in the valley. There are various pressures out there. You are aware Mian Abdul Qayoom, who was the president of the bar association, is now in detention. He has been rabidly anti-India. In such a situation, what kind of justice would be expected or legal provisions followed is the question."