Jammu: The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, granting immunity to the Army and paramilitary forces in anti-insurgency operations, may go from some parts of Jammu and Kashmir this year, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Saturday.
"Militancy is constantly on the decline and if it continues in this fashion, I can assure you that the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) and Armed Forces Special Powers Act may be removed from the state this year itself, what to talk of during the tenure of my government (till 2015)," Abdullah declared in the Legislative Assembly while replying to the motion of thanks on the Governor`s address to the joint session of the legislature on February 28.
Abdullah said the government has already removed 40 bunkers from the summer capital of Srinagar and also reduced the strength of Central Reserve Police Force by two battalions (approximately 1,200 personnel) and held out promise that "more would be reduced from Srinagar and other towns".
"Not only that, we are also planning to thin out the presence of the Army from the built up areas in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
The removal of AFSPA and DAA have become part of the hot political debate in Kashmir politics. While it has been a consistent demand of the ruling National Conference, main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and separatists, the army is opposed to withdrawal of AFSPA.
Army Chief Gen VK Singh in his observations has said that "AFSPA was needed for the anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir".
Abdullah also denounced the criticism that thousands have been arrested in the Kashmir Valley. "It`s simply not true," he said.
"The truth is that 4,064 were arrested, of whom 3,900 are out on bail," he said.