New Delhi: Differences over Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir cropped up at the Congress Core Group discussions here on Friday ahead of the Cabinet Committee on Security meeting on the issue tomorrow as government appeared to be treading a cautious path.
After the 90-minute meeting attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, indications emerged that the government faced a tough call as it wants to balance the security needs vis-a-vis the state government`s demand for partial withdrawal of the controversial act from the state.
The CCS meeting has been convened tomorrow amidst speculation that the Centre could come out with some announcement on the occasion of Eid.
At the meeting also attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president`s political secretary Ahmed Patel, Defence Minister A K Antony and Home Minister P Chidambaram aired divergent views on the demands on AFSPA withdrawal.
Prithviraj Chavan, AICC in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, and senior party leaders from the state Ghulam Nabi Azad and Saifuddin Soz also attended the meeting.
Reflecting the security establishment`s apprehensions,
Antony opposed any decision to even partially withdraw AFSPA
while Chidambaram is understood to have emphasised the need
for some political action to break the impasse in the valley,
Antony is believed to have cautioned that the Army should
not be projected as a "demon", the sources said.
There was a view that the four districts of the state
from where AFSPA`s withdrawal is being demanded by Chief
Minister Omar Abdullah has no Army presence, they said.
It was also pointed out that there is no guarantee that
stone pelting, which has been going on for three months, would
stop even if the AFSPA is withdrawn from these districts, the
Chavan and Azad also disfavoured any concessions as these
could be seen as succumbing to pressure, they said.
Chidambaram told the meeting that the state government`s
demands would have to be considered and something should be
Significantly, before the Core Group meeting, three
Service Chiefs called on the Prime Minister but the PMO said
it had nothing to do with the Kashmir discussions.