Centre working to amend AFSPA, restrict its use

New Delhi: In the backdrop of demands for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Centre on Saturday said it was working to amend the controversial legislation and exploring ways to "limit its application" to some areas.

"We are also looking at limiting the application of the AFSPA to some areas. That is the goal over a period of time. In consultation with the state government, we will have to take a look at that," Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters here.

He said the Centre was looking at bringing amendments to the Act, which has drawn prolonged protests in Jammu and Kashmir and parts of the Northeast after the legislation came into force there.

Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have been demanding repeal of AFSPA contending that they give unfettered powers to armed forces.

"The AFSPA amendments are getting ready. At the moment, we are looking at the amendments to the AFSPA. I cannot disclose the nature of the amendments because that has to go through the Cabinet process," Chidambaram said.

J-K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had also demanded withdrawal of the Act and there have been deliberations with the armed forces over the issue.

"We had promised to revisit the subject after the elections. We have revisited the subject," Chidambaram said.

The Centre is expected to explore possibility of phased withdrawal of the anti-terror law in two districts of Kashmir– Srinagar and Budgam – and two in Jammu region – Jammu and Kathua -- as these districts have registered minimum violence for past one year.

Army Chief Deepak Kapoor had discussed the issue of the AFSPA with Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra during his recent visit to Srinagar.

Manipur had witnessed violent protests demanding the repeal of the Act.

Bureau Report