New Delhi: A fresh attempt is being made to
build consensus within the government to amend the
controversial Armed Forces Special (Powers) Act (AFSPA), Home
Minister P Chidambaram indicated on Thursday.
"I am trying to revisit AFSPA but as you know one needs to
build a consensus within the government before amendments can
be brought before Parliament," Chidambaram said while replying
to questions after presenting the monthly report for his
"We are trying. You know we have tried in the past," he
said during the press interaction on being asked whether AFSPA
could be repealed in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir.
He said in J&K there was a consensus within the
Central Government that if the state withdraws the Disturbed
Areas Act, AFSPA will automatically go.
"You know that in Kashmir, we have asked the state
government to review the application of Disturbed Areas Act
and if that act is reviewed, then automatically if the DA does
not apply to areas in Kashmir, the AFSPA is not applied to
that area in Kashmir.
"So we took that route in Kashmir. In Manipur, the demand
is that AFSPA should be repealed. There is a Jeevan Reddy
committee report. We have discussed this a couple of times.
"As I said, there is no consensus yet and I am trying to
build consensus..I have not succeeded so far. There is a
statement of the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) that we will
replace the AFSPA with a more humane act. So we are trying,"
The army has conveyed its apprehensions to the Defence
Ministry that replacement of AFSPA or any dilution could
hamper its operational capabilities to effectively deal with
militancy and insurgency.
"On the first route (in J&K) there is a consensus at the
Centre. Now at the operational level, the J&K govt would have
to, in the Unified Command, agree to review the application of
Disturbed Areas Act.
"If they are able to lift the DAA from, say five places,
then AFSPA would not apply to those five places. So that is
something which they have to do and I am in touch with the
Chief Minister (Omar Abdullah)," Chidambaram said, adding Omar
has to "weigh the pros and cons and then decide when to do it,
where to do it. That is for them."
Omar`s government in the state has already constituted a
Committee earlier this year to review the DAA. The Committee
comprises Director General of Police, Home Secretary and Corps
Commander of 15 Corps (for Kashmir) and Corps Commander of
16-Corps (for Jammu).
The Committee has met twice so far and is expected to
meet again next month.
The AFSPA gives the Army the powers to detain and, if the
situation warrants, eliminate suspected terrorists when they
are fighting insurgents without the fear of prosecution.
The Act is only in force in some areas in Kashmir and
insurgency-affected states in the north east.
The Second Administrative Reforms Committee had suggested
to the government replacing of the Act with an amended law
which gives the Centre the right to deploy the Army or
para-military forces in situations involving national