Armed forces, BJP against AFSPA dilution; Omar won’t quit

The armed forces & the country`s principal opposition party have mounted pressure against AFSPA dilution.

Updated: Sep 14, 2010, 23:51 PM IST

New Delhi: As the Centre grapples with the
issue of deciding on withdrawal of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir,
the security forces today made it clear that they would like
"legal protection" in dealing with the situation there.

A day after CCS called an all-party meeting after
deferring a decision on withdrawal of Armed Forces Special
Powers Act, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said a
soldier, to perform his duty efficiently, "deserves all the
legal protection" that he could get.

"I am sure the government is sensitised to this
problem and whatever decision they will take I am sure it will
be the correct one," Naik, who is also the Chairman of the
Chiefs of Staff Committee, said when asked for his opinion on
the AFSPA, which the government is reportedly considering
withdrawing from some parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

His views were echoed by senior BJP leader LK Advani accused the Centre of "bending over backwards" to placate secessionists in the Valley.

"There is continuing talk of diluting the AFSPA, and withdrawal of the forces. This is nothing but a surrender before Islamabad`s strategy of breaking India`s post-1947 unity."

"This is what the military rulers of Pakistan have been dreaming of ever since their defeat in Bangladesh`s War of Liberation in 1971. It is a shameful irony that if one Congress Prime Minister was responsible for India`s historic victory in that war, another Congress set up is working towards India`s surrender to Pakistan`s proxy war on India in Kashmir," Advani said.

Referring to demands of granting "maximum autonomy" to Kashmir, he said that far from repealing Article 370, which grants special status to the state, the UPA government "looks all set to repeal years and decades of our collective gains in Kashmir, all because of its lack of will, vision, commitment and competence".

He said the BJP and its earlier form Bharatiya Jan Sangh had waged a battle for extending many of the central government`s powers over Jammu & Kashmir since 1953.

He said that Jawaharlal Nehru had said in parliament that Article 370 was "a purely temporary provision", but the UPA government was "bending over backwards to placate the secessionists".

Meanwhile, rejecting reports of
resignation, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah
today met his ministers and coalition partners about the
course of action over the "delay" in getting a political
package from the Centre.

On a day a national newspaper reported that Omar has
threatened to resign in protest against the Centre`s
"dithering" over withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special
Protection Act (AFSPA), an official spokesman asked the media
not to give credence "needless, baseless rumours".

His resignation has been demanded by the BJP.

Omar, who is also said to be upset over use of
phrases "trust deficit, governance deficit" in the official
statement issued after the CCS meeting in Delhi yesterday,
himself said today "I am not saying anything at the
moment. If I have something to say, I will let you know."

The developments came a day before all parties will meet in Delhi on Wednesday over Kashmir package issues.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony said the government will take a final decision on a Kashmir package, including withdrawal of the AFSPA, at the all-party meeting Wednesday morning that will be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which met here Monday, deferred a decision on withdrawing the AFSPA from certain parts of Jammu and Kashmir. This was one of the measures being considered to defuse the volatile situation in the Valley, where 88 people, mainly teenagers and youth, have died in violent protests since June 11. The CCS also decided to convene Wednesday`s all-party meeting to consider the way forward in Kashmir. J&K’s main opposition PDP have said they will attend the meeting too.

-Agencies inputs