AFSPA On Way Out: Omar21 October 2011
Srinagar: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Friday stated that the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) would be scrapped from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir within next few days. However, he didn’t specify the areas. “Time has come for the revocation of laws (AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act), which were introduced in the state after the onset of militancy, from some areas of the state within next few days. We have already identified the places from which the Act will be withdrawn but I am not in a position to name those areas,” Omar said while speaking on the Police Commemoration Day at Zewan here. The announcement of the revocation came days after centre-appointed interlocutors, tasked to find a political solution to Kashmir issue, submitted their report to Union home minister P Chidambaram earlier this month recommending among other measures repeal of the Act. After the report was submitted, Omar Abdullah had a meeting with Union home minister over the review of the AFSPA. Omar did not specify the areas from where the laws would be revoked. “I am not in a position to name those areas right now but I can assure you that we have reached a point after which we can start the revocation of the laws from some areas within some days,” he said. AFSPA was invoked in Kashmir valley and in some areas of Jammu division in the year 1990 after militancy erupted in the state. However in 2001 it was extended to all the districts of the state. As the militancy showed a decline after 2005 and the situation improved, the revocation of AFSPA was perhaps the one common point over which separatists as well as the mainstream politicians had consensus in the state. While opposition PDP raised pitch over the issue in 2006, Omar, himself, was a strong advocator for the revocation of the law. But the revocation of the law was often opposed by the army arguing that it would “hamper their operational capabilities”. Lieutenant General S A Hasnain, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Srinagar based Chinar Corps, on Monday (October 17) said that review or revocation of AFSPA was not discussed even once during meetings of Unified Command. After 2010 unrest, two committees were set up by the state government to study the possibility of scrapping the Act from certain areas. Downplaying the speculations about the security situation after repealing the Act, he said that revoking of laws will have no adverse impact over such areas. “The return of peace in the state is due to the sacrifices of police along with other forces. Police is capable of maintaining peaceful situation and destroying any threat. There is no need of any fear on this count,” Omar said. The improvement in situation and the decline in militancy, he said, will pave way for revoking the laws from other parts of state as well. “To revoke the laws was only possible after our policemen laid down their lives while braving the militancy. With those efforts we are able to revoke these laws,” he said lauding the role of police in tackling militancy. “Out of 635 martyrs from across the country, the state which has been a victim of terrorism had only 18. A small state like Delhi has 15, which speaks about the improvement in the situation,” he said. Lauding the role of police in normalizing the situation this summer, he said that police as well as people played a major role for the return of peace after three years. “What I have learnt in last three years of unrest is that if today is good there is no guarantee that tomorrow will also be good. We will have to work hard to ensure that 2012 will be as good as 2011. Attempts were made to provoke public sentiments but people refused to fall prey to the designs of vested interests. Several measures including police-public meetings, sporting programs, vocation trainings and other steps which were taken last year helped in ensuring peace this year,” he said. Omar assured that Government would provide every possible help for the welfare and betterment for the families of slain policemen. “We have already initiated so many schemes for the welfare of police martyrs’ families. Whatever more is required in this direction would be done,” he said.