AFSPA removal: Omar surprised at Army`s resistance

Omar said the Army never had a counter-insurgency role in Srinagar district as it was always the state police and CRPF playing the role.

New Delhi: With withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) topping the agenda, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has expressed surprise over "more resistance" from the Army for removal of the Act from certain areas of the state despite assurances that there interests would be protected.

Maintaining that discussions on partial withdrawal of AFSPA was an "ongoing discussion", Omar said the Army never had a counter-insurgency role in Srinagar district as it was always the state police and CRPF playing the role.

"Unfortunately, there is more resistance than I would have liked from the Army for the reasons I don`t understand. It’s a considered decision that the areas that we are looking at for the removal of AFSPA are the areas where we don`t require the Army to operate.

"They are not operating on counter-insurgency grid...unfortunately, the Army never had counter-insurgency as its task for district Srinagar. Right from the beginning, it was first the job of the BSF and the BSF was replaced by the
CRPF why can`t that continue," Omar told a news agency here.

He said the state government was ready to take into consideration rightful concerns of the Army. "We understand Army has certain concerns regarding their establishment where it is Badami Bagh (Cantonment area), Sharifabad and Tattu
ground (army camps). We are saying those areas, we will keep them out of ambit as in they will still qualify for AFSPA.

What is the matter. This is the discussion that is going on," he said.

Asked whether the state government was pursing sanction of prosecution for Army officers allegedly involved in the fake encounter at Machil in North Kashmir, Omar drew a parallel with the recent hearing in Supreme Court where the judges had asked about a clear cut policy from the Army to either prosecute the officers under Army act or allow the civil courts to take the action.

"What happened in Supreme Court is a pointer. Of course, if you take recourse to AFSPA to say that this matter can`t be transferred to civil court then you have to try it yourselves. You can`t take this defence that we will not transfer it to civil court but we will do anything about it ourselves.

"That means there will be no justice. No system can allow that. So either you transfer it or try the case and deliver the justice yourself. These are the only two options. The option of doing nothing is not available. Not doing anything is not an option," he said.

Four unemployed youths were allegedly killed in a fake encounter last year in Machil sector of North Kashmir. The police filed a chargesheet against nine people including a Colonel and a Major of the Army.


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