PC, Antony should concur on AFSPA: Khurshid

With consensus on withdrawal of AFSPA from parts of J&K elusive, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said Home Minister and Defence Minister need to concur.

Updated: Oct 25, 2011, 21:05 PM IST

New Delhi: With a consensus on withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts of Jammu and Kashmir elusive, Law Minister Salman Khurshid Tuesday said Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K. Antony need to concur on the issue and the Indian Army has to be taken on board before any decision can be taken.

"The home minister and the defence minister should first concur on the issue and the army should be taken on board before a final decision can be taken (on AFSPA withdrawal)," Khurshid told reporters here.

His comments come in the wake of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah comments last week that "with gradual improvement in the security situation and return of peace, some laws like AFSPA are being removed from some areas within the next few days".

Abdullah said on Twitter: "For some it will be too much, for others not enough, but the way I see it, it will be a significant beginning, however small."

Khurshid said the chief minister may have "compelling reasons" to address the aspirations of the people of the state for pushing for the withdrawal of the special law, which has been in force in the state for more than 21 years.

There have been widespread demands for the removal of AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to security forces dealing with insurgency.
Abdullah`s remarks, some quarters feel, came after his discussions with Chidambaram last week.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju said the government was examining the demand for withdrawal of AFSPA at the highest level.

However, Raju said he thought the special law was "needed for the forces to function in some very very difficult times."
"What the chief minister is asking for is lifting AFSPA from some areas, where there are more peaceful conditions. But I am sure the government and the (defence) ministry will take a balanced view on that," he added.