Kashmiri Separatists Complicate AFSPA Issue For Omar Abdullah13 November 2011
The Economic Times
Srinagar: Separatists have queered the pitch for Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, saying the state would witness turmoil if the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa) is lifted from certain areas, as proposed by the CM. Responding to the reported comments of a senior General at the last meeting of the Unified Headquarters, Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said it was 'clear proof of India holding to Kashmir by its military might.' Abdullah is set to hold meetings on Thursday with the state cabinet and the coordination committee of the ruling alliance on Afspa. At the Unified Headquarters meeting, Lt Gen SA Hussain reportedly said during his presentation that India would be compelled to grant J&K independence by 2016 if Afspa was lifted. Rejecting Abdullah's idea of 'creating islands of peace,' the general said, 'while the people were demanding electricity, roads, water, calls for lifting Afspa came from Pakistan, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, terrorists and secessionists.' Mirwaiz's bete noire Syed Ali Geelani's hardline Hurriyat saw 'unintentional admission of truth' in the General's statement. 'India is in J&K because of its military and it cannot hold on to Kashmir even for a day without the armed forces and the black laws giving impunity to them,' a statement by its spokesman Ayaz Akbar said. He said if the 'black laws' are lifted, 'India won't have even a single person in J&K ready to accept its sovereignty as a people's revolt against the occupation would erupt like nobody has witnessed.' JKLF too said the General's statement was admission of 'military occupation.' The response of the separa- tists could vindicate the Army's stand against lifting Afspa in certain areas. National Conference leaders, however, see the statements of Hurriyat leaders as wishful thinking. The issue of partial withdrawal of Afspa from certain areas of Jammu, Kathua, Budgam and Srinagar, initiated by Abdullah, snowballed into a controversy after the defence ministry and the Army opposed the move for strategic reasons.