J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has announced that the widely denounced Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will be lifted from some parts of Kashmir. The AFSPA has been widely denounced as it gives sweeping powers to the military. On too many occasions the military has abused those powers, in both J&K and Manipur.
Civil rights activists like Medha Patekar and Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey are among those who have been agitating for the repeal of the act.
The removal of AFSPA from some parts of Kashmir is only a partial victory for those who have been calling for a complete repeal, but at least it is a step in the right direction. AFSPA, instead of solving problems has become a part of the problem in the regions where it is applied.
“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,” Omar said.
“However, I am not in a position to disclose the names of those areas right now.”
Abdullah said on microblogging site Twitter Friday morning: “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.”
Addressing the Jammu and Kashmir police commemoration day function in Srinagar, he said the return of peace had paved the way some such laws to be revoked from all parts of the state.
Informed sources said the decision was taken after the chief minister’s meeting with Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
There have been widespread demands for the removal of AFSPA which gives sweeping powers to security forces dealing with insurgency.
Social activist Medha Patkar and Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey started an anti-AFSPA journey from Srinagar to Imphal in Manipur Sunday.
In Imphal, activist Irom Sharmila has been fasting for the last 11 years for the repeal of AFSPA from Manipur.
Security forces and intelligence agencies have favoured a cautious approach.
“Its removal will have to be cautiously calibrated with the security situation in a particular area,” an intelligence official said.
“An overview will also have to be taken to ensure that areas where the act is removed do not become safe havens for insurgents.”
An official told IANS: “The legal way out is to be agreed upon between the state and the centre. The revocation of the disturbed areas act by the state government would result in automatic repeal of AFSPA.
“Once AFSPA is removed from parts of the state, the exercise would be gradually extended to other parts, depending upon the security scenario,” he said.
The chief minister dismissed speculation that the state police might not be adequate for security in these areas after the removal of AFSPA.
“The return of peace in the state is due to the sacrifices of Jammu and Kashmir Police along with other forces,” he said. He added that there need be no fear fear over the police capabilities.
Abdullah said his government had always believed that the dividends of peace should reach the people and laws imposed at the start of militancy be removed with gradual improvement in security situation.