Four districts in J&K to bid adieu to AFSPA soon

Out of the 22 districts, AFSPA is applicable in 20 districts ever since the outbreak of militancy in 1990.

Last Updated: Oct 23, 2011, 16:02 PM IST

New Delhi: Curtains are likely to be drawn on the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in four districts -- two each in Jammu and Kashmir Valley -- as
the Jammu and Kashmir government has set afoot plans to revoke the Disturbed Areas Act, a prelude for automatic revocation of the Act which gives extra-ordinary powers to Army.

According to sources privy to the developments, the areas which may soon see AFSPA no more in force are Srinagar and Budgam districts in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu and parts of Sambha districts in Jammu region.

J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had constituted two core groups comprising Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda, Home Secretary BR Sharma Corps commanders of 15 Corps and 16 Corps separately to review the Disturbed Areas Act.

While Khoda and Sharma were the common members, 15 corps commander was member of panel for Kashmir while 16 corps commander was member for Jammu panel.
Recently, the high-powered panel comprising state and Army officials met here again to review withdrawal of Disturbed Areas Act from some parts of the Valley which is
seen as a precursor towards lifting of AFSPA from these areas.

The meeting was attended by the Director General of Police, the Principal Secretary (Home) and Commander of the Army’s key 15 Corps (which guards the Line of Control in
Kashmir Valley) Lt Gen SA Hasnain during which the issue was debated extensively, the sources said today.

The panel was expected to meet soon after which a recommendation was likely to be made to the state cabinet for revoking the Disturbed Areas Act from some areas, the sources
said.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had said in his recent monthly press conference that if the Disturbed Areas Act was withdrawn by the state government, AFSPA will be revoked
automatically from those areas. This was followed by an announcement made by Abdullah at a police function hinting at partial withdrawal of AFSPA from few areas.

Although the Army has been contending that action against terrorists still take place in the Valley, the sources said the state government and the Union Home Ministry were of the
firm opinion that there was no need for the act within these areas, which have not seen much of Army action.

The figures being mentioned by the Army about killing of 19 militants in last two months to support their case for continuity of AFSPA was contended by the state as well as
Home Ministry by saying that these encounters had happened along the Line of Control and North Kashmir especially in Sopore and Lolab areas after the militants managed to sneak
in.

This year there were nine incidents in which terrorists were killed within the Srinagar district out of which J&K Police along with central para military forces was engaged in
eight encounters. Army was called out in one incident to lay cordon as the incident took place in a densely populated area and the state government wanted to prevent any collateral damage.

There was no incident in Budgam city of Central Kashmir and in Jammu and Sambha districts where the state government plans to withdraw the controversial act.

Out of the 22 districts, AFSPA is applicable in 20 districts ever since the outbreak of militancy in 1990. Leh and Kargil are the only two districts where this act is not in
force.

PTI