AFSPA revocation: Ball in J&K Governor`s court

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 13:35

Jammu: Governor NN Vohra will have a final say in deciding whether special powers to the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir are to be revoked from some areas and when, say highly placed official sources.

The Centre will wait for the Governor`s word primarily because of two reasons - the union defence and home ministries have different perceptions, while within the state, the Army and the state government have diametrically opposite views on the issue, the sources say.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and the union home ministry are for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which has been in force for more than 21 years, from some areas to begin with.

But the Army and defence ministry are wary of rushing into any such major decision which, according to them, runs the risk of reversal of gains made during anti-insurgency operations for two decades.

Abdullah triggered a fresh debate when he announced at a police function in Srinagar last Friday that AFSPA will be "lifted from some areas within days". He reiterated that the time has come to make a beginning on the issue.

With the defence ministry and the Army offering stiff resistance to the move, despite agreeing that the situation has improved, confrontation is building up on the lifting of AFSPA that was invoked in Kashmir Valley in 1990 and in the entire state (barring the two districts of Leh and Kargil) in August 2001.

As Vohra was holding key positions in the central government in the 1990s and subsequently had studied the Kashmir situation as the central interlocutor from 2003 till his appointment as Governor in 2008, he is "aware" of the ground realities and perspectives, the sources said.

His assessment of the situation would be a determining factor, as the Army, central government officers and the state government look upon him for sound advice on the issue, the sources said.

Even cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and Northern Command chief of the Army, Lt Gen KT Parnaik, had a detailed discussion with him.

"His report would be a deciding factor," a source said.


First Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 11:44

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