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Separate combat fatigues being planned for security forces in Kashmir to avoid confusion

A confusion often prevails during security operations in Kashmir, with Army, CRPF & police donning common fatigue. Army was the first to raise the issue.

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New Delhi: With similar kind of fatigues for security forces in Jammu and Kashmir leading to confusion during operations, the defence and security establishment at the Centre is considering the introduction of distinct combat uniforms in the region, ThePrint has learnt.

Speaking to ThePrint, a source in the department concerned said, “The common combat fatigues leads to confusion during operations and otherwise. We are looking at the pros and cons of having different combat uniforms.”

In the present set-up, the three main forces in the region — Indian Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police — often end up donning similar fatigues during operations which creates an issue on certain occasions, said sources.

“Each force has a specific role during operations. While the Army is involved in pure counter-terrorism operations, the CRPF in tasked with both helping in counter-terror operations by forming the second layer of defence when the Army operates, and of course the law and order duties including crowd control.

“The Jammu and Kashmir Police has a mandate just like any other regular police force and their Special Operations Group takes part in operations with Army,” said a source, explaining the distinct roles of the three forces.

Even terrorists have been found to be using similar combat uniforms to hoodwink citizens and security forces. In most attacks on security establishments, the terrorists have been found wearing combat uniforms similar to forces.

During the 2018 strike on a BSF camp in Srinagar, a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist almost managed to camouflage himself among the security forces. However, an alert trooper spotted him and shot him dead.

Army’s concerns

Sources said the matter has been flagged in the past as well, with the Army first raising the issue.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir identify the security forces with the word “fauj”, which literally means the Army, said the source quoted above.

This confusion in identification creates another security issue as Army personnel from the Rashtriya Rifles and the Special Forces also take on appearances of the local crowd to blend in.

In cases of severe stone pelting, the CRPF sometimes uses pellet guns. However, civilians and several media reports houses repeatedly blame the Army for such incidents despite the fact that the force is not involved with law and order issues.

During the clampdown in the aftermath of the Narendra Modi government’s move to scrap Article 370, multiple media reports, particularly from the international press, carried news that Army conducted night raids in Kashmiri villages.

However, in an interview to ThePrint, Army chief General Bipin Rawat denied carrying out any such operations.

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