Army Clarifies On Chief’s AFSPA Remark27 June 2010
New Delhi: In a damage control exercise, army Sunday sought to explain away its chief Gen V K Singh's controversial comments on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by claiming that these had not been 'understood in the correct perspective'. Even as New Delhi prepares to make AFSPA, that gives sweeping powers to the Army in Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast, 'more humane', the General has gone on record to voice his opposition to any changes, saying demands for dilution of the Act were being made for 'narrow political gains'. His comments come in the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's promise to make the act more humane. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has already sent a note to the cabinet on diluting the Act. Affirming that 'all those who ask for its (AFSPA's) dilution or withdrawal, probably do so for narrow political gains,' Gen Singh had said that any dilution 'will lead to constraining our operation'. In a statement issued here, the Army said the General had told a defence journal in April that 'AFSPA must be understood in the backdrop of trying conditions a trooper is operating in the militancy-infested areas in J&K and North East.' The statement said General Singh's comments were 'primarily in context to the local politics in J&K with special reference to separatist forces who are inimical to the interest of the nation. Their sole aim is to demoralise the troopers.' The army statement did not mention that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other mainstream political parties had also been pressing for dilution of the Act, a demand that has intensified in recent weeks following killings of three Kashmiri youths by the Army in a suspected fake encounter in Machil in Kupwara district on April 29. The killings have led to widespread protests in the Valley and given a major setback to the normalisation process in the State.