Lawyers In Indian Kashmir Strike Over Security Laws1 December 2011
Srinagar: Lawyers in Indian-administered Kashmir went on a day-long strike Thursday to demand that harsh emergency laws be revoked in the revolt-hit region. The draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) were introduced in 1990 to give the army and paramilitary forces sweeping powers to detain people, use deadly force and destroy property. 'The one-day strike was called by Kashmir Bar Association to demand revocation of AFSPA and DAA,' G.N.Shaheen, general secretary of a local bar association, told AFP. Indian Kashmir's Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said in October that the law would be withdrawn in certain areas, but later appeared to row back on that under pressure from various groups including the army. Abdullah's pledge was hailed as a significant step in normalising life in the Indian part of Kashmir, where the legislation is detested by locals. But after facing stiff opposition from the army and pro-India political parties, Abdullah last month said he had only announced an 'intention' to revoke the laws and 'didn't announce a decision'. The army insists the laws are vital in their fight against insurgents. Abdullah said he plans to consult the army and top ministers before deciding on whether to partially withdraw the tough law. Violence is at its lowest in Indian Kashmir since the start of the insurgency that has so far left more than 47,000 people dead by official count.