Centre should take CM`s views on AFSPA: Farooq

The New and Renewable Energy Minister said the security situation in the state has improved and the Act must go from some areas there.

New Delhi: Supporting Omar Abdullah`s demand
for withdrawal of AFSPA from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir,
Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said the Chief Minister
is "the boss" in the state and the Centre should take his
views on the controversial Act.

The New and Renewable Energy Minister said the security
situation in the state has improved and the Act must go from
some areas there.

"I feel that time has come when the state is on the mend
and from some of the areas there, the AFSPA should go because
people feel that things are getting normal," he said when
asked about his views on the issue.

"As Chief Minister, I am the boss. I get the inputs from
all the agencies. Today, if the Chief Minister feels that
conditions are better and our relations with Pakistan are
improving, then I feel that we should take his view also with
courage," the former J-K Chief Minister said.

Omar is demanding revocation of the Armed Forces Special
Powers Act from certain parts of the state, a move which is
opposed by the Army saying it will handicap its ability to
operate there.

Abdullah said he and his family "will die but not do
anything which will hurt the interest of the country".

He said Omar met all Central ministers in-charge of
security along with Army chief and they will take a decision
on the issue.

He said similar objections were raised against removal
of 40 bunkers from the Srinagar city but the situation has
been "fantastic" in the state which has seen "excellent"
tourist season this year.

Abdullah said India`s relations with Pakistan have also
improved after the meeting between the two Prime Ministers but
cautioned that before taking any step, New Delhi should be
careful as Army was "still in command" in Islamabad.

"We have to be very careful. Whatever steps have to be
taken, they have to be taken with great care with all the
things being understood carefully, then only one must take
steps," he said.

On the Indo-Pak ties, Abdullah said, "Our Prime Minister
has high hopes on the issue but our Defence Minister is wary."

Commenting on the Unified Command Headquarters, which has
been entrusted the task of taking a decision on the AFSPA
issue, Abdullah said he was the one who created the command
there which was opposed "tooth and nail" by the then army
chief Gen Shankar Roy Chowdhury.

Attacking BJP leader LK Advani`s statement that army was
being "demonised" in J-K, Abdullah asked, "Where was he when
the NDA Government was releasing five top terrorists in
special aircraft in Afghanistan".

Abdullah said stopping the 1948 war with Pakistan before
Indian forces annexed the whole of Jammu and Kashmir was a

"Stopping the war before annexing entire J-K was a
tragedy. We should have taken entire Northern Kashmir, Skardu,
Baltistan and even Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. I think history
will never forgive the leaders who took the decision to stop
the war at that time," he said here.

The Union Minister was addressing a gathering after
releasing a book `The Caliphate`s Soldiers: The
Lashkar-e-Toiba`s Long Walk`.

On LeT, Abdullah said most of the terror groups have
originated out of the western efforts in Afghanistan to uproot
the erstwhile Soviet Union from there.

Abdullah said the world was passing through an "extremely
dangerous" phase and if action was not taken to eliminate
terror groups such as the LeT, the consequences will be more
dangerous than what happened in the 9/11 attacks.

He said that these groups have been trying "to drive India
out of Kashmir" but they will never be able to go with
Pakistan and separatist leaders such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani
"will die as Indians only".

Asked if he "shares the responsibility of alienating
Kashmiri people", Abdullah said the allegations that Assembly
elections in 1987 were rigged, which is considered to be the
trigger for violence in J-K, was incorrect as his Ministers
had also lost elections then.


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