Omar urges PM for partial withdrawal of AFSPA, `Eid package` likely

Omar Abdullah met Manmohan Singh seeking amendments in AFSPA or its partial withdrawal from the state.

Last Updated: Sep 09, 2010, 00:13 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Indications of an `Eid package`
for Jammu and Kashmir were available today with the Centre
considering amendments to the Armed Forces (Special Powers)
Act or its partial withdrawal in the state at a meeting of the
Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Friday.

J&K CM Omar Abdullah, who flew in here and met PM Manmohan Singh, urged him to
kickstart a political dialogue with the separatists at the
earliest.

During the 45-minute meeting, Omar highlighted the need
for amendments in the AFSPA to make it more humane.

"Yes, I have requested the Prime Minister to take a
decision on amending the AFSPA or at best withdrawing it from
some areas where it was not required. To begin with we may
choose four districts in the state on experimental basis,"
Omar said after the meeting.

Omar said, "Some calculated risks have to be taken... let
us see." Asked whether he was hopeful, he said, "If I am not
hopeful, I won`t be here."

On his meeting with PM, Omar said he had very good
discussions with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister.

The CCS headed by the Prime Minister will be meeting on
Friday to discuss and take a decision on AFSPA, official
sources said.

The Prime Minister had on Monday told editors that he
would soon be calling a meeting of the CCS to "threadbare"
discuss the Kashmir situation.

After the meeting with PM, Omar joined the `Iftar` hosted
by Singh at his official 7, Race Course residence.

While Omar remained non-committal about the districts,
sources said that Srinagar and Ganderbal districts in Kashmir
Valley and Jammu and Sambha districts in Jammu regions could
be the first one from where the AFSPA could be withdrawn.

The Chief Minister also discussed threadbare a road map
for its phased withdrawal beginning with the districts which
have registered no or minimum violence during the past one
year and in this context he gave examples of the four
districts.

The Chief Minister said that there have been
recommendations made by the Law Commission and Administrative
Reforms Commission about the repealing of the act.

According to the sources, a peace package will be finalised at the meetings of the CCS and the cabinet and is likely to include:

- Lifting of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the districts of Srinagar and Badgam in Kashmir and Jammu and Ramban in Jammu region. Now all the districts of Kashmir and Jammu region are placed under the AFPSA.

- Special compensation for the families of the 69 civilians killed in firing by security forces during the past three months.

- Jobs and rehabilitation for surrendered militants.

- An employment package for the educated unemployed.

- Release of arrested youths and withdrawal of several cases related to stone-pelting.

The central government will repeat its intention to begin a dialogue with "all shades of opinion in J&K", the sources said.

Sending an all-party parliamentary delegation to the violence-hit state will be another proposal to come up at Thursday`s cabinet meeting.

Political circles have been hinting at a relief package to be announced on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr Saturday.

At least 69 civilians, mostly teenagers and young men, have been killed in firing by security forces on stone-pelting street protesters since June 11.

The cycle of violence has led to frequent shutdowns and curfew in the valley for the past three months.

-Agencies inputs