‘Defence, Home Ministries to decide on AFSPA’

A decision on revoking the AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir will be taken by the Defence and Home Ministries, a senior Army commander said on Sunday.

Jammu: A decision on revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir will be taken by the Defence and Home Ministries, a senior Indian Army commander said on Sunday, underlining that the act was a "must for national security".

Northern Command chief Lt Gen KT Parnaik told a group of newsmen on the sidelines of an investiture ceremony on the Army Day in Akhnoor, 30 km from Jammu, that "AFSPA is a necessity for national security".

He was replying to questions on AFSPA that grants immunity to the security forces from legal prosecution for actions undertaken while fighting insurgency. Jammu and Kashmir has been battling terrorism for the past 21 years, and the Army and other wings of the security forces are shielded by this Act, which Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is keen to get removed in a phased manner in the backdrop of fast improved situation in the state.

Parnaik, during whose tenure the troops of the Northern Command smothered the terrorists and made 2011 the most peaceful for the first time since 1990, however, made it clear that the "the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Home Affairs would decide on the issue of revocation or retention of AFSPA".

Reasoning the context of AFSPA`s need in Jammu and Kashmir, citing the ground realities, the Army Commander referred to the anticipated threat of terrorists coming from across the Line of Control (LoC) joining hands with the existing lot in the state to disturb the peace, and the continuous ceasefire violations by Pakistan troops.

Parnaik said this is what made Army`s concern more logical than anything else.

The Northern Command is spread over from south of Pir Panjal to the edges of the Valley with Ladakh.