'Repeal Army's special powers in J&K'



New Delhi: Describing the situation in Kashmir as "critical and tragic", a delegation from the civil society, which visited the Valley recently, Friday called for the immediate withdrawal of the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh, who led the team, told reporters here that the people whom the team met in Kashmir "complained about the total insensitivity of the central government as well as the people and media in India to the tragic happenings in Kashmir".

The other members of the delegation were former chairperson of the National Commission for Women Mohini Giri, activist and former naval chief Admiral L. Ramdas, Delhi Catholic diocese spokesperson Father Dominic Emmanuel and social worker Mazher Hussain.

Agnivesh said the government should immediately take confidence building measures, including release of all political prisoners and an independent inquiry into the killing of civilians since the alleged fake gun battle in Machil in north Kashmir in April this year.

Other demands of the team included withdrawal of the army and paramilitary forces from the cities and civilian areas and the use of non-lethal weapons to tackle civilian protests. The team wanted the government to provide a place for public protest.

Agnivesh said that an all-party parliamentary team should "visit Kashmir immediately and reach out to the people and start a process of reconciliation".

IANS