`People want AFSPA withdrawal for political gains`
Army Chief General VK Singh has said people asking for withdrawal or dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir are doing it for "narrow political gains".
New Delhi: Army Chief General VK Singh has said people asking for withdrawal or dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir are doing it for "narrow political gains".
"AFSPA is a misunderstood act and all who ask for its dilution or withdrawal, probably do so for narrow political gains," he said in an interview to the `Land Forces` Defence magazine.
The Army Chief was asked if the withdrawal of AFSPA would "seriously jeopardise" the safety and credibility of the force in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pointing out that soldiers operating in "hostile environment" need legal protection to perform their tasks efficiently, Singh said, "Any dilution or withdrawal of AFSPA will lead to constraining our operations."
The issue of amending the AFSPA has been regularly raised by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah with several senior Central leaders including the Prime Minister and Home Minister P Chidambaram.
The government is also planning to make the Act more humane.
North-eastern states have also been demanding the removal of AFSPA citing the misuse of the law by the armed forces.
Noting that though the violence levels have come down in the state, the Army Chief said, "the terrorist threat remains real and the terror infrastructure across the borders remains active.
"In such an environment, the security forces are required to undertake operations in challenging circumstances against highly trained terrorists armed and equipped with sophisticated weapons. Therefore, we need requisite legal protection."
In the interview given to the magazine in April, Singh said adequate measures have been taken at all levels to ensure that the powers entrusted through the Act are not misused.
AFSPA is in force in Jammu and Kashmir and some militancy- affected states in the Northeast.