3 members delegation to meet top brass in New Delhi20 November 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has made a fresh attempt to narrow down the differences between the State Government and the Army over partial withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by authorizing a three member high level delegation to hold talks with the Central Government and Army representatives. Authoritative sources told the Excelsior that General-Officer-Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Northern Command Lt Gen K T Parnaik, Home Secretary B R Sharma and Director General of Police (DGP) Kuldeep Khoda will comprise a three member delegation, which will go to New Delhi and hold talks with Home Secretary R K Singh, Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and Army chief Gen V K Singh. The Home Secretary and the State police chief will present the version of the State Government to the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary while the Northern Command chief will present his viewpoint to the Army chief on partial withdrawal of AFSPA. Sources said the entire exercise was aimed at working out a formula on partial withdrawal of the Act from four districts of the State in such a manner that the State Government feels satisfied and interests of the security forces are also protected. The three member delegation will be visiting New Delhi by the end of this month after the visit of President Pratibha Devisingh Patil here on November 25 and 26. Sources said the fresh exercise would serve as a beginning point on partial withdrawal of the Act, a demand Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been pressing hard with the Central Government. The delegation would also discuss as to how the partial withdrawal of AFSPA from peaceful areas of the State could be implemented. Sources added that the new exercise undertaken by the Government was aimed at narrowing down the differences between the Government and the Army on partial withdrawal of the Act keeping in view the Army's stand for legal protection in the areas from where the Act was withdrawn. 'The requirement of the State Government is partial withdrawal of AFSPA only from peaceful areas and not the districts, where militants were still active', they said, adding that the Chief Minister has already identified the areas which included Srinagar and Budgam in Kashmir and Jammu and Samba in Jammu region. The meetings between top brass of State's civil and police administration and Northern Command chief with New Delhi representatives and Army chief would help narrow down differences between the State Government and the Army on the Act, sources said. They added that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah once again wanted to convey a message to New Delhi that he was asking for partial revocation of AFSPA only from peaceful areas of the State, where Army hasn't operated for quite a long time. Omar had proposed partial withdrawal of AFSPA from some parts of Srinagar and Budgam districts in Kashmir region and Jammu and Samba districts of Jammu region. However, his proposal met with stiff resistance from the Defence Ministry and the Army, who said troops could face operational difficulties in the areas where AFSPA was withdrawn. The Chief Minister camped in New Delhi for two days meeting Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister A K Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Army chief Gen V K Singh to remove their doubts on partial withdrawal of AFSPA. Omar had already stated that he was not asking for withdrawal of AFSPA from Sopore, Baramulla or Kupwara but only from Srinagar and Budgam, where Army hasn't operated for quite a long time.