Ample scope for addressing Army concerns: CM19 November 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Correspondent Srinagar: Reiterating his demand for partial withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the State, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said that he was firm on his demand but, at the same time, added that there was ample scope for addressing concerns of the Army on the issue. In a brief chat with a group of reporters outside the office of Regional Transport Officer (RTO) at Narwal this morning where he had personally gone to convert his manual driving license into computerized, Omar said 'definitely we will look into some concerns voiced by Army over partial withdrawal of AFSPA from the State’’. Sticking to his demand for revocation of the Act from some parts of the State, the Chief Minister, however, refused to enter into a debate on it on television or public. 'I don’t want to enter into any political debate over revocation on AFSPA from some areas on the television or in the public. I believe there is ample scope to go ahead with revocation (of AFSPA from peaceful areas of the State) while we will look into certain concerns the Army has brought forward’’, Mr Abdullah said, adding 'I believe there is ample scope for us to go ahead with what we have decided to do while at the same time addressing concerns that the Army has flagged off'. He was fired a volley of questions about the revocation of AFSPA from some districts and what was his stand after his return from New Delhi, where he met the Central leadership over the issue. The Chief Minister further stated that he does not want a public debate over the issue. 'I do not want to get into the debate through the media on AFSPA. I have already told media on the two occasions when I was coming out from the meeting with Union Home Minister (P Chidambaram) and Union Finance Minister (Pranab Mukherjee)', Omar said. The Chief Minister had met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister A K Antony and Army chief Gen V K Singh besides Mr Chidambaram and Mr Mukherjee in New Delhi during his two days visit in New Delhi recently to mobilize campaign in favour of withdrawal of AFSPA from some parts of the State. The Government proposed withdrawal of AFSPA from four districts of the State including Srinagar and Budgam in Kashmir and Jammu and Samba in Jammu region. The Defence Ministry and the Army were opposed to the demand on the ground that it will handicap their operational abilities. Replying to a question on National Conference president and Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah’s statement that had the Army not been stopped in Uri in 1947, it would have captured Northern Areas of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and there would have been no Kashmir problem, Omar quipped 'I have nothing to add nor to subtract what Dr Abdullah has said’’. Farooq had said that it was the biggest tragedy that troops were stopped in Uri and not allowed to capture the Northern Areas. 'Had troops not been stopped then, there would have been no problem now’’, he had said. The Chief Minister said if the Opposition is not satisfied with the appointment of the one-man Commission to probe the custodial death of NC worker Syed Mohammed Yusuf Shah, it should take up the matter with the judiciary. 'If the Opposition has doubt on the enquiry, then there is nothing I can say. The State Government had yesterday appointed the Commission under retired Kudge H S Bedi (65), whose name was proposed by the Union Law Ministry. The Opposition said the constitution of the Commission of Inquiry would not help to uncover the truth. 'We did not want to appoint a Judge, even if he is very objective, from within the State as the Opposition would have cast aspersions on him...We approached the Law Ministry to recommend a penal of retire Judges...If the Opposition is still not satisfied, I can do nothing about it,' the Chief Minister said. The Commission, which has been asked to complete its probe in six weeks, will investigate the entire circumstances leading to the death of 61-year-old Yusuf during his custody with Crime Branch of the State police on September 29. A simultaneous probe into the alleged criminal activity of the deceased will continue with the Crime Branch. His death snowballed into a political controversy after he was summoned by Omar to ascertain whether he was taking money from people on the pretext of getting them Ministerial berths. Yusuf was arrested along with two others, Salam Reshi and Mohammed Yusuf Bhat, on September 28 from the Chief Minister's residence for allegedly duping people of money promising them Government jobs, MLC seats and Ministerial berths, citing his proximity with top NC leadership. Yusuf died the following day and as per postmortem reports he had suffered a massive cardio-respiratory failure. Two people including Bhat and a mimicry artist Aizaz Bhat have already recorded their confessional statements before a magistrate against Yusuf. Meanwhile, setting a new precedence, Omar today personally visited the office of RTO Jammu at Narwal at 10.30 am to get his manual driving license computerized. He got himself photographed for the computerized license. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had earlier visited Transport Authority in New Delhi himself to get his driving license renewed. Accompanied by Transport Minister Qamar Ali Akhoon and Political Advisor Devender Singh Rana, the Chief Minister also inquired about the implementation of Public Services Guarantee Act (PSGA) and other facilities being provided to the people. RTO Jammu Varinder Slathia briefed the Chief Minister on the facilities being provided to the people under PSGA and the time frame fixed for them. Mr Slathia said the Chief Minister was issued computerized license after he was photographed in the office. Earlier, he had a manual driving license. The Chief Minister utilized the opportunity to interact with the people present in the RTO office and inquired about the facilities provided to them including issuance of driving licenses, renewal of licenses and registration of vehicles. The Chief Minister inquired from the people about the quality of service being provided to them under PSGA to get one time-line service delivery from various departments identified under the Act. Omar filled up his form himself for getting the computerized license.