AFSPA row: Omar meets Antony, Army Chief

Ahead of his meeting with PM on AFSPA, Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah met Defence Minister AK Antony and Army Chief V K Singh.

Last Updated: Nov 13, 2011, 23:31 PM IST

New Delhi: Ahead of his meeting with the
Prime Minister on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act issue,
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today met
Defence Minister A K Antony and Army Chief V K Singh to press
for early removal of the Act from certain parts of the state.

During his meeting with Antony, Omar presented his case
for removal of AFSPA from at least from four districts -- two
each in Kashmir and Jammu, official sources said.

While Antony conveyed the reservations of the Army over
such a move, Omar emphasised the need to translate the
promises made by the National Conference-Congress alliance on
ground and reward the people of the state for maintaining a
peaceful year, the sources said.

To drive home his point, Omar noted that he state has
seen a boom in the tourism industry with nearly 13 lakh
tourists visiting the state till October this year.

The Chief Minister is scheduled to meet the Prime
Minister, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister
P Chidambaram in this connection tomorrow to present the case
of the state government for removal of AFSPA from certain
parts of the state.
There was no official word on what transpired during the
hour-long meeting between Omar and the Army Chief. The Army
has voiced its serious reservations over withdrawal of AFSPA
from certain parts citing security concerns.

The J-K Government has been pressing for partial removal
of AFSPA and suggested that it could be removed from Srinagar
and Budgam besides Jammu city and Sambha.

A Unified Headquarters meeting was held recently in which
Army gave a detailed briefing on its opposition for even
partial removal of AFSPA from certain areas of the state and
also went to the extent that if AFSPA is removed, Kashmir may
become independent by 2016, a statement which shocked everyone
present at the meeting.
Army contended that AFSPA is an enabling act to counter
terrorists operations and should be seen in the context of the
proxy war waged by Pakistan in the state.

Other central agencies opposed the Army`s move and termed
the assertion of the Army as a far-fetched and without any
basis.

The Chief Minsiter told the meeting in no uncertain terms
that "no is not an option" and that partial removal of AFSPA
would have to take place. Omar also later went on to stress
that he was fully authorised to revoke the act from the areas
he wished.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had said in Jammu
recently that no controversy should be made out of AFSPA and
the decision has to be taken politically.

PTI