Govt Says No To AFSPA Repeal, Troop-cut4 March 2010
Jammu: Rejecting opposition PDP’s resolutions seeking troops-cut and repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, government Thursday said the situation in the State has not improved to the extent necessitating the withdrawal of troops and AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir. The resolutions were moved by PDP leaders, Javaid Mustafa Mir and Nizamudin Bhat on Wednesday. However, due to paucity of time, the resolutions were deferred. In his speech, Javaid Mir said social life in the civilian areas has got affected due to presence of troopers. “In Nishat area, the 16-year-old Zahid Farooq was killed by BSF personnel without any justification. Such incidents can be stopped if troops are withdrawn from civilian areas,” he said. The PDP legislator said Union Home Ministry also claims that the situation in J&K has improved considerably. “The chief minister too has admitted that the ground situation in the State has improved. Now the State government should either state that situation has not changed or stick to its statement that situation has really changed. I request the House to the pass the resolution seeking withdrawal of troops from civilian areas,” Mir said. Explaining his resolution on AFSPA revocation, the PDP MLA from Bandipore Nizamuddin Bhat said the Act was imposed on the J&K following “extraordinary” circumstances in 1990. “Nobody objected when it was imposed. However, the Act, which gives impunity to troopers deployed in the State, doesn’t suit a democratic system now,” he said. Bhat said the act has outlived its utility. “It has lost its relevance. At the time of its imposition, the two countries (India and Pakistan) were at loggerheads, but the scenario has changed now. Their focus is now on peace process. There should be no impediment to peace process and good governance.” The PDP legislator said if the House rises to an occasion to do justice to the commitment made by New Delhi, he was sure the resolution, if passed, would increase the honour of House. “Kashmir context was unilateral and the equation of two countries was vital. All impediments have to go. I don’t gauge the situation from incidents of human rights violations but from the performance of the government. The HR abuses will continue to take place till forces enjoy unbridled powers,” he said. Bhat appealed to the House to work out a recommendation for New Delhi. “We should persuade New Delhi to some extent that AFSPA was not needed now”. Speaking on the discussion, PDP President Mahbooba Mufti said situation in J&K deteriorated in 1989 but the seed for that was sown in 1947. “Somehow, we managed to restore confidence among the masses after 2002. That can be gauged from the fact that even after the killing of 60 people during Amarnath land row, J&K registered 60 per cent voting,” she said. She said the government claims that Bomai army camp was shifted, but the fact is that Bomai residents are still making rounds of High Court to seek justice. “When I was CLP leader during our regime, I shifted many camps like Bomai. This is not such a big thing”. Mahbooba said in 2004, Prime Minister Mahmohan Singh announced that situation in J&K was improving and New Delhi could think of reducing the number of troops gradually. “But things changed again. I am not saying troops should vacate abruptly but if demilitarization is started from a district level on trial basis, there is no harm in that,” she said and urged the House to pass both the resolutions. CPI (M) leader Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami seconded the resolution saying, troops should be vacated from some areas. “Such areas should be called as peace areas,” he said. NC MLA from Kupwara, also supported PDP resolution. “I think time is ripe for the revocation of AFSPA and vacation of troops from the civilian areas.” However, National Pathers Party and pro-Hindutva BJP strongly opposed both the resolutions. “Encounters and bomb blasts still take place in Lal Chowk and other parts of Kashmir. Police is not fully equipped to tackle the situation. For the first time, Indian flag was not hoisted in Lal Chowk,” said NPP leader Harsh Dev Singh adding, “Militants can’t be nabbed under normal law. The AFSPA deals with militants. So I don’t think time allows us to revoke the act and vacation of troops.” BJP leader Ashok Khajuri said the House had become a “hub of anti-national politics” and thus should be resolved. Replying on behalf of the government, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar said the government was committed to bring the human rights violations to zero level. “For that we need your (PDP’s) cooperation too. Nobody wants innocent should die. We have left no stone unturned in curbing the human rights violations. But there are some black sheeps who don’t want peace to prevail,” he said. Welcoming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent statement in Saudi Arabia he was ready to resolve all issues including Kashmir, Sagar said, “The government was trying its level best to create peaceful atmosphere. We need the support of all parties including PDP in creating such a peaceful atmosphere, where we can think positively of revocation of AFSPA and withdrawal of troops.” The Law Minister said the government had already started the process of vacation of troops from civilian areas. “So far 311 government buildings, 590 private buildings, 30 hotels and five cinemas have been vacated by the forces,” he said. Regarding, revocation of AFSPA, Sagar said that the efforts have already been put in to bring State police to the forefront and added that the political leadership of State shall work for ensuring peaceful environment in this context, he also referred to the statements of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister maintaining that the local police will get more prominent role in dealing with the situation.. Later, Speaker asked the House to decide the fate of resolutions. Both resolutions were rejected through voice vote.