Centre `receptive` on AFSPA withdrawal: Omar

J&K CM Omar Abdullah on Monday held high-level deliberations with the central govt over the removal of controversial AFSPA from certain parts of the state.

Updated: Nov 14, 2011, 23:49 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram to discuss the partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and said they were "receptive" to this.

"Partial withdrawal was one of those issues that I discussed with the Home Minister," Abdullah told reporters, emerging out of the North Block that houses Chidambaram`s office.

The Chief Minister said he was in the process of meeting members of the cabinet committee on security.

"I met the PM, the Home Minister," he said, adding, “I have made my point clear. This is an ongoing process. The PM and the Home Minister were receptive."

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Omar said, “There is ample opportunity to address armed forces` concerns on AFSPA issue while going ahead with its removal from some areas
in J&K,” adding, “Separatists do not want the AFSPA to be withdrawn.”

Meanwhile, Defence Minister AK Antony said that the issue of revoking the AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir has to be handled in a very mature and cool manner and that there is no deadline to lift it.

"On our side, my opinion is that this being a very very sensitive issue, let us handle it in a very mature and cool manner," he told reporters in New Delhi in reply to questions on the issue of withdrawal of AFSPA in certain areas of the state.

The Defence Minister said inter-governmental consultations are taking place and will continue.

The meeting with the Prime Minister comes a day after Omar had discussions with Defence Minister A K Antony and Army Chief V K Singh to press for early removal of the Act from
certain parts of the state.

During his meeting with Antony, Omar presented his case for removal of AFSPA from at least from four districts -- two each in Kashmir and Jammu, official sources said.
While Antony conveyed the reservations of the Army over such a move, Omar emphasised the need to translate the promises made by the National Conference-Congress alliance on ground and reward the people of the state for maintaining a peaceful year.

To drive home his point, Omar noted that his state has seen a boom in the tourism industry with nearly 13 lakh tourists visiting the state till October this year.

There was no official word on what transpired during the hour-long meeting between Omar and the Army Chief. The Army has voiced its serious reservations over withdrawal of AFSPA from certain parts citing security concerns.
The J&K Government has been pressing for partial removal of AFSPA and suggested that it could be removed from Srinagar and Budgam besides Jammu city and Sambha.

A Unified Headquarters meeting was held recently in which Army gave a detailed briefing on its opposition for even partial removal of AFSPA from certain areas of the state and also went to the extent that if AFSPA is removed, Kashmir may become independent by 2016, a statement which shocked everyone present at the meeting.

Army contended that AFSPA is an enabling act to counter terrorists operations and should be seen in the context of the proxy war waged by Pakistan in the state.
Other central agencies opposed the Army`s move and termed the assertion of the Army as a far-fetched and without any basis.

The Chief Minister told the meeting in no uncertain terms that "no is not an option" and that partial removal of AFSPA would have to take place. Omar also later went on to stress that he was fully authorised to revoke the act from the areas he wished.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had said in Jammu recently that no controversy should be made out of AFSPA and the decision has to be taken politically.

With PTI Input