Donít politicize withdrawal of AFSPA issue: Azad10 November 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare and former Chief Minister of the State, Ghulam Nabi Azad, today said that withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain parts of Jammu and Kashmir should not be politicized and any decision on this sensitive issue should be left to the Chief Minister and Union Home Minister. In an informal chat with the media-persons on the sidelines of a function here this evening, Mr Azad said, 'I donít want to comment on who has said what on this very sensitive issue but I can only say that an avoidable controversy is being created over the withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Power Act and the issue is being politicized and made a public debate'. 'Since morning when I arrived here from Delhi, each and every person whosoever I met with was talking about Armed Forces Special Powers Act and I came to conclusion that a big controversy is being made out of it', the former Chief Minister of the State said. Stressing that there should not be any controversy on the withdrawal of AFSPA, he said, 'the revocation of Act is totally an administrative decision which has to be taken by the Chief Minister of the State in consultation with the Union Home Minister'. 'The Chief Minister of the State by virtue of being also the Home Minister and the Union Home Minister, who is incharge of the internal security, know about everything what is happening inside the State so this sensitive issue should be left to them for any decision', the Union Minister said. To a question, Mr Azad said, 'it is for the Chief Minister and Union Home Minister to decide as to who should be consulted or not on the issue of withdrawal of AFSPA'. 'Let the Chief Minister, if he wants to, consult his Cabinet colleagues or political parties, which he must have already doneÖI donít know', the former Chief Minister of the State said, adding 'it is for the Union Home Minister to take care of the Armyís reservations on the withdrawal of the Act'. 'Let the Union Home Minister talk to Prime Minister, Defence Minister or whosoever he may want to, to consult on the Armyís stand on the sensitive issue. Ultimately, it is the Chief Minister and the Union Home Minister, who will have to take decision on the withdrawal of Act, and not the public'. Stating that there is no need to create any controversy over the issue, politicize it and make it a public debate, Mr Azad said, 'we should not try to take political advantage out of this very sensitive issue and link the withdrawal of Act with regional and other issues', adding 'I would request all the political parties both in the Jammu and Kashmir and outside the State to leave this issue to be decided by the Chief Minister and Union Home Minister'. Earlier, while addressing Diwali-Eid-Gurpurab Milan organized by the Jammu Lawyers, Mr Azad recalled the days when he used to organize such functions in Delhi and former Prime Ministers, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi used to attend the same. 'Some people are using religion for petty benefits and political mileage but common masses are living in complete harmony in the country and in Jammu and Kashmir', he said, adding 'communal harmony and peace are imperative for the development of the country and any State'. 'The Indian economy is being recognized world over only because of peace, which helps the Governments to lay complete focus on the developmental issues', he said. 'Notwithstanding the fact that several persons are raising different voices in the Kashmir valley, I have seen numerous examples of secularism there during my tenure as Chief Minister which indicate that such voices are raised for petty gains', he said. Speaking on the occasion, B S Slathia, president of Bar Association of Jammu, recalled the revolutionary steps initiated by Mr Azad during his tenure as Chief Minister and said that people of the State have great regard for Mr Azad. The function was attended by Ministers, sitting and former MLAs, DGP Kuldeep Khoda, Political Advisor to Chief Minister, Devinder Singh Rana and people from cross section of society. Justice (Retd) K K Gupta presided over the function. Earlier in the day, Mr Azad along with Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand unveiled bust of former administrator of JMC Balvinder Singh at Rehari. On the occasion, floral tributes were paid to Balvinder Singh and his contributions to the society as an administrator and as a public figure were remembered. MoS Haj and Auqaf, Aijaz Ahmed Khan, MLA Surankote Ch Mohd Aslam, MLA Ramban, Ashok Kumar, MLA Jammu West, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, former Chairman Legislative Council, Arvinder Singh Micky, MLCs Devinder Singh Rana, Naresh Gupta, Subash Gupta, former Minister, Gharu Ram and former MLAs were present on the occasion.