Congress and PDP blame Omar on AFSPA

CM Omar Abdullah`s recent announcement on limited withdrawal of the Disturbed Areas Act has led to utter confusion and its price is being paid by ordinary civilians, PDP chief alleged.

Srinagar: Omar Abdullah`s move to revoke
AFSPA from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir was on Friday
questioned by Congress leader Saif-ud-din Soz who said all
stakeholders including the Army should have been consulted,
inviting a terse response from the Chief Minister who said he
is well aware of his responsibilities.

Soz, the Pradesh Congress chief, said the Chief Minister
was trying to score a political "goal" by revoking the Armed
Forces Special Powers Act from some areas and not taking
anyone on board.

"As Chief Minister,I am well aware of my responsibilities
of consultation and carrying my alliance partners with me,"
Omar responded.

A different line was taken by Taj Mohiuddin, senior
Congress leader and Cabinet minister in the Omar government,
who contended that he was consulted by the Chief Minister on
the issue.

He, however, said the feasibility of revoking AFSPA
should be decided jointly by the Army, intelligence agencies
and the state police.

"I have no grouse at not being consulted by the Chief
Minister. He could have even sought my opinion over phone...

However, the main players like Union Home Ministry, Defence
Ministry, Congress party and Army should be taken on board on
the issue. It does not seem to be the case at the moment," Soz

Referring to allegations of lack of consultation with
Congress, which is a junior partner in the state government,
Soz said it seems that Omar wants to "score a goal by himself
but that is not how the game is played".

Refuting the charge, Omar said consultations at various
levels with Army have taken place and continues to take place.
"Formal discussion in the Unified Command, of which the Deputy
Chief Minister (Tara Chand of Congress) is also a member, has
also taken place from time to time," he said.

Soz said the Chief Minister would have been on a sure
footing if he had held prior consultations with the
stakeholders on the issue of revoking AFSPA.

Omar countered his statement saying that if the
coordination committee, which oversees functioning of the
National Conference-Congress coalition in the state, wishes to
discuss the idea of AFSPA issue, then as the head of panel,
"Mr Soz is well within his rights to call a meeting and dicuss
it. I am not a member and, therefore, it’s not for me to bring
this issue there.

"Soz Saheb chairs the coordination committee. If the
coordination committee has any inputs, they are welcome to
share those with me," the Chief Minister said.

Asked if Congress was averse to revoking the law, Soz
said "AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act are not permanent and have
to go one day but it has to be a decision by consensus".

In response to a question, he said there was no truth in
suggestions that state Congress unit was trying to destabilize
the Omar government which is about to complete three years
in office.

Mohiuddin said Congress is not averse to revoking
AFSPA. "If local police, army and intelligence agencies say
it is feasible and possible to revoke the act, Congress has no

"Congress is not against the people but at the same
time we cannot take any risks," he added.

Meanwhile, CPI (M) State Secretary M Y Tarigami welcomed
the proposal of revoking AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act from
certain areas of the State but cautioned against messing up
issues of such public importance in avoidable political

Tarigami said given the improved security situation, CPI
(M) has always been stressing for removal of these draconian
laws. "Since there is marked improvement in the overall
security situation in the state, time has come to revoke this
law at least from certain areas at the first instance," he

Noting that steps like revocation of AFSPA shall ensure
relief to the people of the state, Tarigami said such
initiatives should not be perceived as any compromise with the
overall security requirements.

"There is dire need to provide relief to people and
any such move in that direction should not be discouraged or
allowed to be consumed by political or security discourses,"
he added.

PDP feels Omar jumped gun on AFSPA

Chief minister Omar Abdullah`s recent announcement on limited withdrawal of the Disturbed Areas Act from Jammu and Kashmir has led to "utter confusion" and its price is being paid by ordinary civilians, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday alleged.

She said things were made worse by the "usual lack of cohesion" between various components of the government, and "it seems that a debate is taking place only after the announcement was made".

"It appears that the chief minister had not done his home work before he rushed to make an announcement about the proposed withdrawal of AFSPA," she said. Mufti said any move towards revocation of AFSPA should in normal course have brought relief to the people but instead the violence had "suddenly spurted".

"It seems in place of providing relief to people and introducing an element of relaxation the government has succeeded only in instilling fear in people," she alleged.

Mufti also expressed sympathy with the victims of the recent terror attacks in the state and described them as "outright condemnable".

Suspected militants yesterday exploded a grenade in a crowded market place in Anantnag injuring five civilians in the fifth attack in two days.


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