AFSPA dilution will impinge operations: Army chief

AFSPA dilution will impinge operations: Army chief

15 April 2010
The Daily Excelsior


NEW DELHI: With the Government mulling amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Army chief General V K Singh has said any dilution in the law will 'impinge adversely' on the operations of security forces in troubled States of the country. 'Any dilution of the AFSPA will impinge adversely on the manner in which the armed forces operate,' Singh said in an interview in the upcoming edition of 'Sainik Samachar', the Defence Ministry's official fortnightly. 'While operating against terrorists, insurgents and anti-national elements in constrained and trying circumstances, the armed forces need requisite legal protection,' he said, when asked for his opinion on AFSPA, which is in force in Jammu and Kashmir and some North Eastern States. On reported misuse of AFSPA, Singh said adequate measures have been instituted at organisational and functional levels to ensure that the powers entrusted through the Act 'are not misused.' Following reports of misuse of AFSPA that gives wide powers to the armed forces to shoot, arrest and search, the Home Ministry has indicated that it was considering the recommendations of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee and Administrative Reforms Commission to make changes in the law. Noting that the AFSPA was designed to facilitate the conduct of operations against the terrorists and anti-national elements, he said its utility in carrying out counter-terrorist operations could not be disputed. 'However, great care is taken to ensure that the Act is not misused and strict action has been initiated against the offenders,' he added. Singh said both the Army and the Government were well aware of 'excessive employment' of the armed forces in secondary roles such as internal security and all efforts were being made to keep such deployment 'minimal' and for the shortest possible timeframe, consistent with threats and national security interests. He was asked to respond to suggestions that the Army's combat potential was affected due to deployment in secondary roles and had lowered the morale of the troops, apart from alienating the general public. The Army chief said the armed forces had a Constitutional obligation of assisting the civil administration in dealing with serious internal threats and their primary role was to bring down the violence to 'manageable levels' so that confidence of the people was restored and the security environment so created facilitated smooth governance. On Jammu and Kashmir, Singh said the Army has adopted a multi-pronged counter proxy war strategy, including an integrated counter-insurgency posture on the Line of Control and establishment of a counter-terrorist grid with relentless operations against the ultras in the hinterland. 'This is intertwined with winning hearts and minds of the local populace through various projects. Our strategy has been successful with violence levels in the State coming down and the overall situation being firmly under control,' he said. On growing ties with Myanmar and its influence on counter-insurgency operations in the North East, Singh said the interaction between the two countries would 'surely impact' and 'influence' dedicated actions by security forces for denying the use of their territory by Indian insurgent groups and facilitate containment of other activities like human trafficking, drug and arms smuggling. Asked about the modernisation plans and preparedness of the Army, the Army chief said he was 'conscious of certain voids' and these were being appropriately addressed. 'Our modernisation plans cater to developing force capabilities in a prioritised and graduated manner to enhance our operational preparedness,' he said. 'Procurement of equipment, upgradation to new generation technology and better equipment is an ongoing procedure. Overall operational preparedness remains satisfactory,' he said. The Army had recently told a Parliamentary Standing Committee that its operational preparedness in certain critical areas of warfare such as armoured, artillery and infantry was much lower than the desired levels. Being the first commando to take over as Army chief, Singh said the Special Forces were being modernised to include consolidation of existing assets, procurement of equipment and training facilities. 'Decision has been taken to enhance the strength of the Special Forces keeping in view our future requirements. Equipping of existing units is also under progress as per modernisation plans,' he said. Stressing that the Army periodically reviewed its training schedules and curriculum based on changing scenarios, feedbacks and self monitoring systems, Singh said the concept of their employment was constantly modified to meet the emerging operational challenges. (PTI)


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