You can’t revoke AFSPA, but can hang Afzal Guru: Omar to Centre
Jammu: Accusing the Centre of adopting a "different yardstick" for Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday questioned its "pick and choose" policy over Afzal Guru hanging and revoking of AFSPA while decrying the arrest of suspected Hizbul militant Liyaqat Shah.
"When I talk about revoking AFSPA, you don't want to take the risk, but you hang Afzal (Guru). Why don't you have the courage to revoke AFSPA...After hanging of Afzal Guru, you cannot bring him back, but after removal of AFSPA, you can reimpose it", Omar said while replying to debate on demand for grants in the Legislative Assembly.
Omar said "when we talk about AFSPA, we were told you are pushing the state to danger-- I do not understand when we are ready for experiment in J&K--why there is always pick and choose-- when this government shouted and screamed that by hanging Afzal Guru the situation in J&K state will deteriorate you ignored that-- that was your right".
He said AFSPA is not imposed in Naxal violence hit areas. "There are no helicopters shot down in Kashmir, but you have a different yardstick for J&K."
On arrest of Liyaqat Shah, Omar said he was coming to the state to surrender under the state's rehabilitation policy for ex-militants.
"If a man comes to attack a shopping mall, will he come with his wife and children? Tell me. I am hearing for the first time that a militant came to attack holding the hand of his wife and carrying weapons in other hand, as if going for a picnic."
The CM said he has asked the Home Minister that NIA should examine the case.
"We have taken up the issue with Centre, because we know if wrong is done with Liyaqat, others who want to take benefit of surrender policy will hold back."
The Chief Minister said while nobody can deny that Parliament attack was wrong, Kashmiris are asking questions as to why Afzal could not get a stay from court on his hanging like forest brigand Veerappan's aides or why killers of Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did not face the same fate as Afzal as their actions also were also an attack on democracy.
"Lot has been said on Afzal Guru and to say that it has no affect on Jammu and Kashmir, the people of Kashmir, is wrong. Kashmiris are not fools-- they see what is happening in rest of the country-- they weigh the decisions what happened with Afzal Guru and what happened with the gang members of Veerappan," Omar said.
"When they seek answers from us, we are unable to answer. I feel that no member of this House can reply their queries. When Afzal Guru was hanged, you said that Afzal Guru was hanged after undertaking/exhausting all the legal options available with him-- that is why he was hanged," he said.
"When case pertains to Veerappan gang members, after the rejection of mercy plea by the President, it is being stayed by the Supreme Court, the execution is being stayed by the Supreme Court. When a common Kashmiri stops us on the cross road and then questions us why Afzal Guru 'sahib' could not stop his execution by going to court-- how can I give answer to that," he said
"When we talk of integral part of India-- J&K being integral part of India-- then justice becomes blind for this integral part," he added.
Stating that every Kashmiri is "neither a Pakistani nor seeking independence", the Chief Minister blamed the Centre for erosion of powers of the Jammu and Kashmir and said it has to win the hearts and minds of the people instead of just "giving statements" of the state being an integral part of the country.
Omar said aspiration of people are linked to the demand for removal of AFSPA and he was not playing politics over the issue.
Referring to the indefinite fast by Manipur activist Irom Sharmila demanding revoking of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, that give immunity to armed forces, he said "if not today but tomorrow they will have to listen us because we are right.
"I fail to understand that when you are ready to take risk by hanging Afzal Guru then why cannot you take risk to remove AFSPA..., I not playing politics with this issue-- I am saying it on the background of improvement in the situation of the state".
"I am not a prophet-- I can also be wrong but then you have the powers to re-impose it-- atleast you should dare," the Chief Minister said.
"..There are some areas where we do not need Army, where
we can take on the challenges ourselves-- give us six months--nothing will happen-- sky won't fall-- I will continue asking for removal of AFSPA," Omar said.
On hanging of Guru, he said, "What happened at Parliament was wrong. 7-8 men at the parliament security were killed. Those 22 people killed by the gang members of Veerappan were also policemen-- they also laid down their lives for the country-- were their family members not rightful for justice", Omar said.
"When we are questioned that these are being weighed in different angles, we do not have answers-- we have to seek answers-- leave rest-- whatever the party we belonged to-- answers will be sought from us-- and we have to answer those questions," he added.
"Every Kashmiri is not a Pakistani--Every Kashmiri is not beating the drums for independence-- but when you will push Kashmirs to the wall then they will use such slogans to justify their anger," he said.
Taking a dig at Centre, Omar said "there will be no changes by repeatedly saying that J&K is an integral part of India-- if you want to change then win the hearts and minds of the people-- it will not be achieved through statements-".
Rejecting suggestions that he should quit if the Centre does not relent on AFSPA, he said that in power he is in a better position to bat for revocation of the law.
Comparing the situation to Naxal areas, he said, "Please tell me helicopter has been brought down there--there is no AFSPA there-- they used commandos, but there is no AFSPA, their officers are there to lead them and train them, but there is no AFSPA --there but why they talk of AFSPA here -no helicopters was brought down here".
Omar said every political party had favoured implementation of working group recommendations should.
"Why they are not implemented-- was AFSPA not in the working group recommendation-- working group has got representation across the political lines over the issue," he added.
Besides it was a recommendation by Justice Sageer Commission report, but nothing was implemented, he said.
Omar said every government at the Centre has accepted that
Jammu and Kashmir is a basic problem and it is necessary to resolve it.
"If we talk of this issue it does not mean that we are not Indians...To whom it is to be proved by repeatedly saying that J&K is an integral part of India," he added.
"It (the Kashmir issue) has two aspects-- one between India and Pakistan and second between New Delhi and the state-- is it wrong to say." Omar said.
"Those people, who repeatedly said that J&K is an integral part of India, they should not forget when J&K had done accession with India, it was only on three things that relations were finalised-- currency and communication, defence and foreign affairs-- rest all will fall in the powers of the state-- slowly and steadily it was eroded and today we have reached to this stage", Omar said.
"We create separate road maps but our target is one --that this political issue should be resolved some way or the other way," he said, adding "our colleagues say self rule-- NC says autonomy-- Congress says Indira-Sheikh accord-- but objective is to resolve the issue".