`Army should concentrate on checking infiltration`

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said Army was not the master of the people of the state and that it should concentrate on choking infiltration of terrorists.

New Delhi: Making a strong pitch for removal
of the controversial AFSPA from parts of Jammu and Kashmir,
Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said Army was not the
"master" of the people of the state and that it should
concentrate on choking infiltration of terrorists.

Farooq also went on to say that local police and CRPF
were capable enough to take over the security responsibilities
from the areas from where AFSPA was likely to be removed. He
also described the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as
a "draconian" law.

"Army is not our master. Just remember that. People of
Jammu and Kashmir are masters of the state. Army is not the
master. Army is only to protect. They will continue to protect
the interest of nation," Farooq said in an interview.

He said the job of the Army was to guard the border so
that infiltration does not take place and that police and the
CRPF are ready to handle other matters.

Farooq, who heads the New and Renewable Energy Ministry,
made it clear that it was not a war between Army and the
Abdullahs as projected by some section of media and said
"..these are question of concerns of all of us. Whether they
are Army`s or of civilians`.

"There are certain things we have to do for the
betterment of the people, for the feeling of the people that
yes there is better situation. That we are getting better.
People of state feel that AFPSA should go," he said.

Asked whether the political leadership of the state was
better equipped to handle the situation, Farooq asked "What do
they (army) handle? If they are able to handle, how the hell
do these terrorists come. How are they coming if they are able
to handle."

He said that the Army was failing to handle the situation
as "otherwise how do they enter?"

To a question whether he was indicating that every
successful infiltration bid was army`s failure, he said "Its
not the question of Army. Its the failure of entire system.

Its intelligence failure. We have intelligence. We have
internal intelligence, we have the external intelligence.
There must be a failure somewhere if they are coming in."

Amid these failures, the National Conference President
rejected suggestion of the questioner for continuance of AFSPA
and said "...I am not interested in AFPSA. Let me be very
frank about it. I think the time has come when people should
be trusted."

To a question whether he meant that Army does not trust
the Kashmiris, he said "I don`t know whether you trust
Kashmiris or not, that you should go and ask Army. Time has
come when people should be given space to breath. When they
should feel that there is nothing beyond the law."

Asked why was his son and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah
was amending the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to address the
Army`s concern, the senior Abdullah said "he must have seen
that they need a protection and that`s why he is giving them.

It was not suggested then and Omar is not a lawyer."
The Union Minister appeared to be agitated when asked
whether Omar was now placating the Army.

"I have been the Chief Minister myself so don`t tell what
a Chief Minister can do and cannot do. Chief Minister is the

He wished "good luck to Army" when the questioner said
that Army felt that neither introduction of AFSPA was
responsible for the situation in Kashmir nor its revocation
would be and that the Abdullahs were using this as an alibi to
divert the attention as they cannot tackle the real issue.

Farooq, however, made it clear that there was no proposal
to withdraw AFSPA from bordering belts or areas where
terrorists were still in large numbers in the Kashmir Valley.

"AFPSA is not going to be removed from those areas. It`s
not going from areas they (terrorists) are coming in. But for
the other districts it will go. Why are you worried about
that? You think the CRPF and the police are useless. That they
can`t deal with it. That they are unable to deal with it," he

Asked whether Omar had not been able to handle the
AFSPA issue well, Farooq shot back "no, not at all. None, none
whatsoever. If he (Omar) decides that it (AFSPA) has to go, it
must go."

He said it did not matter if the Army and the Centre did
not agree. "It is the wishes of the people that matter and if
the people feel that the things are better, then let`s give
them that. They (Army) said when 40 bunkers were
removed...they said if the bunkers go, there will be no
safety. The bunkers were removed and the people are able to
breathe safely. People are walking safely."

To a question whether the state government was prepared
to defy the army, he said there was no question to defying.
"Why are you talking about defying? The question is that there
is a feeling in the people`s mind that time has come. Its not
only in Jammu and Kashmir, there are number of people in rest
of the nation also who feel that this draconian law must go."

When pointed that Army was against the partial
withdrawal of AFSPA, Farooq said "Army has its view and that
view cannot... its not my view. As far as I am concerned, I
feel that once its lifted it is not something that cannot be
brought back if the situation turns like that...The Chief
Minister has already cleared that.

"Therefore, Army`s feeling that it will give more powers
to the militants to act, I don`t agree with this thing because
this is going to take place only in Srinagar, Budgam, Samba
and Jammu..So how does this affect in such small districts?"
Asked whether heightening the demand of removal of AFSPA
reflected frustration of Abdullahs as it was crystal clear
that there won`t be even a partial withdrawal, Farooq said "I
don`t think when you say it is not going to happen. It is
going to happen.

"The question is that the security forces have their own
point of view particularly with the Chinese in the PoK region
and militancy still being propagated by the other side. This
seems to be one of their worries and I think genuinely. So we
have to take all these things into consideration."

Answering a volley of questions about the credibility of
his son on the AFSPA issue, Farooq said "Credibility is not at
stake. No credibility is at stake at all. These are not things
that you decide in a spur of moment. Everything has to take
time. After all AFSPA was introduced in 1990 by the then
Government and Governor.

"As far as my period is concerned, I was the one who
started the Unified Command because I thought it was necessary
to have a unified command so that all intelligence sources
come together and the Chief Minister heads it.

"Now the question is that situation has gone better, what
is the actual situation is only known to the CM because he has
got all inputs," he said.

Farooq said his son did not need any defence as he was
determined to remove AFSPA and that it will have to go.
However, when pointed out that Attorney General had
opined that removal of AFSPA was at the discretion of state
Governor, Farooq said "I am not bothered who has the right and
who has not the right...as far as the President of the party
is concerned, my job is to see is that this thing is lifted as
the Chief Minister says the conditions are better in these
areas, it should be lifted."


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