Army clarifies VK Singh`s remarks on AFSPA

In a damage control exercise, the Army on Sunday sought to explain away its chief Gen VK Singh`s controversial comments on the AFSPA by claiming that these had not been "understood in the correct perspective".

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2010, 17:22 PM IST

New Delhi: In a damage control exercise, the Army on Sunday sought to explain away its chief Gen VK Singh`s controversial comments on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by claiming that these had not been "understood in the correct perspective".

Even as the Centre prepares to make AFSPA, that gives sweeping powers to the Army in Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast, "more humane", the General has gone on record to voice his opposition to any changes, saying demands for dilution of the Act were being made for "narrow political gains".

His comments come in the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s promise to make the act more humane. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has already sent a note to the Cabinet on diluting the Act.

Affirming that "all those who ask for its (AFSPA`s) dilution or withdrawal, probably do so for narrow political gains," Gen Singh had said that any dilution "will lead to constraining our operation".

In a statement issued here, the Army said that the General had told a defence journal in April that "AFSPA must be understood in the backdrop of trying conditions a soldier is operating in the militancy-infested areas in J&K and Northeast."

The statement said that General Singh`s comments were "primarily in context to the local politics in J&K with special reference to the separatist forces who are inimical to the interest of the nation. Their sole aim is to demoralise the security forces."

The Army statement did not mention that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other mainstream political parties have also been pressing for dilution of the Act, a demand that has intensified in recent weeks following killings of three Kashmiri youths by the Army in a suspected fake encounter in Machil in Kupwara district on April 29.

The killings have led to widespread protests in the Valley and given a major setback to the normalisation process in the state.

PTI