Omar Abdullah for changes in AFSPA

J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has raised a question mark over recent "encounter killings" by security forces in the state and made a strong pitch for changes in the AFSPA to make it more transparent.

New Delhi: Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s visit to Kashmir, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has raised a question mark over recent "encounter killings" by security forces in the state and made a strong pitch for changes in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to make it more transparent.

"Obviously there would be doubts. This is the problem when a handful of people for their short-term gains are willing to sacrifice the long-term interests of not only forces they represent but that of everybody else," he told a television channel.

He was asked whether there were doubts about recent encounters involving security forces along the Line of Control (LoC).

The Army had on April 30 said they had killed three unidentified infiltrators in Machhil sector along the LoC.

However, relatives alleged that the three were youths who were
missing since April 27, following which a territorial army jawan and two others were arrested.

"Obviously there will be serious repercussions and doubts will emerge. J&K police is flooded with such complaints and enquiries about encounters are now going back more than five-six years and in some case even eight years," Abdullah said.

"We have dug up bodies and verified whether these encounters are genuine or not. This has really put a lot of additional work on the already burdened police force because a whole host of questions are being asked about these encounters," he said.

He said every complaint that has been made to the police after the Machhil encounter, they have looked into it and "have satisfied the complainants that whatever deaths have so far taken place other than the Machhil one have been the result of genuine encounters".

Asked whether there was still a question mark over some
other encounters and that is why he was saying that those will
have to be verified, Abdullah said, "I am saying that almost
every encounter, unfortunately, that has taken place now has
question marks being posed by people and it is our duty to
address those questions."

The Prime Minister is scheduled to undertake a two-day
visit to Kashmir from June 7 during which he is expected to
renew the offer for talks with separatists and review the
progress on the Round Table peace initiative.

This will be Singh`s second visit to the Kashmir valley
in the first year of his second term in office. He was in
Srinagar last October.

Abdullah said that Singh will be going with a
comprehensive agenda of development and progress. "I am sure
there will be a political element built into his agenda as

On people`s expectations from the visit, the Chief
Minister said they will seek some sort of indication on
Centre`s intention to kickstart the stalled dialogue between
Delhi and mainstream political voices as also other players.

Asked about Army personnel being indicted for their
involvement in alleged fake encounters, Abdullah said the
biggest problem in these cases was absence of transparency.

"Unfortunately, because of the AFSPA because it is built
for the armed forces, Army is the judge, jury and the hangman.
Therefore, there is absence of transparency as a result of
which people have lost faith in the system," he said.

The Chief Minister said people do not believe that
justice would be done and that is why such reactions to the
AFSPA and the armed forces take place.

Abdullah said while the AFSPA was required, "it needs to
be amended so that it is more transparent, more accountable
and people have more faith in the system."

Asked whether the "quiet dialogue" initiated by Home
Minister P Chidamabaram with a section of separatists had not
been handled well, he said, "I don`t think that it was Delhi`s
fault that the quiet dialogue didn`t remain quiet."

"I think concerted efforts were made in certain quarters
throughout the dialogue process and that is what it fell
victim to," Abdullah said.

He said attempts at reaching out to certain sections of
the Hurriyat Conference using back channels were continuing
and hoped these efforts would realise "the results we all hope


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