Revoke AFSPA As Ramzan Goodwill Gesture In Kashmir: Omar's NC Asks Centre

Revoke AFSPA As Ramzan Goodwill Gesture In Kashmir: Omar's NC Asks Centre

21 July 2012
The Hindustan Times
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s ruling party National Conference (NC) on Saturday chose the first day of the month of fasting, Ramzan, to pitch for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and restoration of autonomy by asking the Centre to work on it as a goodwill gesture. “The NC on the commencement of holy month of Ramadan reiterates its stand by appealing the centre to restore autonomy and revoke the AFSPA as a goodwill gesture to address the mistrust,” said NC spokesman Tanvir Sadiq. Both the chief minister and the Union defence ministry are divided on the AFSPA issue ever since Omar announced its revocation from peaceful areas in October 2011. The chief minister, however, failed to prevail upon the army, which fears the revocation might allow militants to gain ground. “The NC stands committed to ensure that the AFSPA is revoked as militancy-related incidents have gone down… Ramadan has started. What better time could it be for the Centre to withdraw the AFSPA from areas not affected by militancy anymore,” said Sadiq. The statement assumes more significance because Omar is also working president of the NC and the party is airing his stand. “Omar Abdullah has all along been saying that the implementation of the AFSPA should not be equated with the law and order situation. The Act was not implemented to meet the law and order situation but to deal with the militancy,” said the party spokesman. The army has done their job but now is the time to address a genuine demand like the AFSPA, which has mass support, said Sadiq. “Around a million odd tourists visited Kashmir and around half a million pilgrims visited the Amarnath shrine. If this is not an indication to withdraw the AFSPA I wonder what is?” asked Sadiq. Hardening its stand over the autonomy issue, the party spokesman said, “Our elected government had sent thoroughly studied report, passed by both the houses, to the Centre, recommending autonomy. Prime Minister-appointed working group’s essence is the same. We have no doubt in the sincerity of India but the mistrust among the people has to be addressed. The only way to do so is to honor the instrument of accession and restore autonomy.”