AFSPA issue: J&K CM rules out special assembly session

Mehbooba Mufti sought session to adopt a resolution seeking AFSPA withdrawal.

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has ruled out convening a special assembly session to demand the repealing of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and discuss the killing of three men in a staged shootout in Nadihal village April 30.

Abdullah late Friday wrote to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti in response to a letter she addressed to him, demanding that a special session be convened to adopt a resolution seeking the withdrawal of AFSPA.

"The Nadihal incident is an unfortunate one but unlike in the past it was the state government which took the initiative through the Jammu and Kashmir Police to launch an investigation and expose to the world that our resolve is not mere rhetoric but is backed by action," his letter said.

Three villagers -- Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmad Lone and Muhammad Shafi Lone -- were allegedly framed as separatist guerrillas and killed in a staged shootout in north Kashmir`s Machil sector of the Line of Control (LOC), which divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Police have arrested four people -- a soldier of the Territorial Army and three army spies -- for luring the three civilians to work as labourers for the Army. An Army officer has also been accused in the case.

"I am confident that those found guilty in the Nadihal incident will be doled out exemplary punishment," the chief minister said.

"I do not think it is appropriate or necessary to get into a blame game about the history of invoking AFSPA in the state except to say that it is unfortunate that nothing was done about the law in the five-and-half years that were available to you."

The AFSPA, which dates back to 1958, is considered by rights activists as a draconian legislation that gives security forces unrestricted power to carry out their operations in a "disturbed area".

Under the legislation, even a non-commissioned officer is granted the right to shoot to kill based on mere suspicion. It gives the armed forces wide powers to shoot, arrest and search.

Abdullah said he was confident the state would move towards lasting peace during the tenure of the present regime, removing "the need for laws like AFSPA in the state and this will happen before the end of this government, that is 2014".

Rejecting Mufti`s plea for a special assembly session, he said: "I have studied your request for a special session of the legislature to be called and find no merit in the same."

Regarding her suggestion for a joint political response to the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said: "I value your offer but it would carry more value if your party were to shun divisive political ideology and work towards strengthening the cohesive fabric of the state."


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