New Delhi: Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday refused to lower his stand on the issue of withdrawing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts of the state and said that discussions over it would continue in future.
Speaking to reporters in Jammu, Omar said, “We won’t accept no over the issue of removing AFSPA from certain areas of J&K. We will continue to hold discussions over it in the near future at all levels.”
Informing reporters that he had a detailed discussion with the Army top brass over the subject, Omar said, “Consensus is being built over the phased removal of the Act with Army and other stake holders.”
Omar’s statement came a day after he held nearly three-hour-long meeting between the Army at Unified Command Headquarters, where he was given a presentation highlighting the importance of AFSPA in fighting militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources privy to the meeting said, during the meeting the Army made it clear that any partial withdrawal of the act will be detrimental to the security apparatus.
“The Unified Command Headquarters meeting was chaired by the Chief Minister during which the overall security scenario in the state was reviewed,” a spokesman of Jammu and Kashmir government came out with a brief release saying.
"The meeting which was also attended by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand discussed in detail the partial removal of AFSPA from different parts of the state and the various constituents of the UHQ gave their view point on the issue," it said.
Ahead of the crucial meeting Abdullah told reporters, “There is a need to remove the AFSPA from some areas of Jammu & Kashmir". The peace dividends of the summer of 2011 in Kashmir must flow to the people, he said.
The Chief Minister has asked the Corps Commanders of Jammu and Srinagar Corps as well as Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda and Home Secretary BR Sharma to hold meetings on the issue of withdrawal of Disturbed Areas Act at the earliest and hand over their report to the state government.
Abdullah had constituted two core groups comprising Khoda, Home Secretary Sharma, Corps Commanders of 15 Corps and 16 Corps separately to review the Disturbed Areas Act.
The move is seen as a prelude to withdrawal of AFSPA from four districts -- two each in Jammu and Kashmir Valley.
The J&K Chief Minister and Union Home Ministry are in support of revocation of the AFSPA from some parts of the state, which has been in force for more than 21 years in the state. AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces, was invoked in the Valley in 1990 and Jammu region in 2001.