Hectic Deliberations In Civil, Army Administration24 October 2011
Srinagar: A high-level Central team, led by Union Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth met Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, his top bureaucrats and senior Army Commanders for the second day Monday to discuss all issues including the proposed withdrawal of the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Before meeting the Chief Minister, the Cabinet Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary had another round of discussion on the security scenario with Northern Army commander and his three Corps Commanders posted in the state. After holding parleys with high profile central team, Army stated that the deliberations on the revocation of AFSPA have not been discussed by it yet. “We haven’t even thought about AFSPA yet. Nor we have discussed it in our meeting,” a Srinagar-based top Army official told Greater Kashmir. Earlier, in a meeting on Sunday, central forces including Army, CRPF and BSF had expressed their reservations over the revocation of AFSPA in front of the visiting central team. According to sources, they had brought to fore the security concerns for operating in the Valley. There were a series of meetings on Sunday as well with all stakeholders in Kashmir on development projects and a review of the security scenario with top Army commanders, official sources said. While Omar, at a public function in Srinagar on Friday, said that AFSPA will be removed from some areas in the state over the next few days, the Defence Ministry on Saturday, according to sources, surprised by the Chief Minister’s statement, reportedly expressed its unwillingness for such a move. “The time has come for the revocation of laws (AFSPA), which were invoked in the state after militancy, from some areas of the state within the next few days,” Omar had said at Police Commemoration Day function at Zewan last week. He, however, did not name the areas from where these laws would be removed. “I am not in a position to name those areas at the moment,” he had said. The Defence Ministry is opposed to withdrawal of AFSPA even from selected areas. It, though, is agreeable to a reduction in the visibility and presence of the Army. An official handout issued here this evening, said the Chief Minister during his meeting with the Union Cabinet Secretary discussed the matters relating to the flagship programmes and centrally sponsored schemes. The Chief Minister, according to the statement told Seth that this year’s peaceful summer resulted in a highly successful tourist season; particularly in Valley. “It also contributed in fast tracking development works and reaching out the benefits of the schemes to people across the State.” On holding of peaceful, free and fair Panchayat elections in the State, after a long gap of about 30 years, the Chief Minister said the Government was committed to establishing a powerful Panchayat system adding that all the three levels of Panchayat Raj will be made functional over the next couple of months. He said that the State Government is determined to hold elections to the urban local bodies during the current financial year to ensure the transfer of powers at grassroots and active association of the people with the development process. Meanwhile, according to sources, the Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma shared the apprehensions of Army and other security agencies with the Chief Minister that revocation of the AFSPA can stimulate militancy in the state. The central team arrived here yesterday and had a detailed discussion with Governor NN Vohra on the internal and external security management of the state.