AFSPA deliberations in limbo
JK Yet To Get Dates For Official Delegation’s Delhi Visit
Jammu, Dec 6: The much awaited deliberations between the official delegation from Jammu and Kashmir with the concerned authorities in the central government over the partial revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state have been put on hold following indecisiveness on the contentious issue in the union home ministry and the defence ministry.
“The state government is yet to get any date from the union government for discussion on the issue”, highly placed sources told Greater Kashmir on Tuesday adding, “The union defence and home ministries have to decide on the date and same will be communicated to the state government”.
The state had constituted a high level team, comprising Home Secretary BR Sharma, Director General of Police (DGP) Kuldeep Khuda and an Additional Director General of Police, to hold follow-up deliberations with the concerned authorities in the government of India on the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s announcement regarding partial revocation of AFSPA from the state.
If sources are to be believed the state has requested the two union ministries to intimate it about the dates on which the discussions could be held with their officials. “The proposal to hold discussion was mooted by the central government and the state had agreed to it”, a top state government official said adding; “It is upto the centre as when and where it wants the discussion to take place”.
“We presume that the North and South Blocks (housing home and defence ministries) are yet to arrive on any decision over the move”, he said. The delay could be due to the ongoing parliament session and the row over FDI decision, he added.
The government had claimed that the team will be sent to Delhi in the last week of November “to clear air over the government’s proposed move”. The team was supposed to hold discussions with a panel of the central government to find out a middle ground to lift the law from some of the areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to sources, army is also to be involved, both at the local level as also at the level of army headquarters, to iron out differences.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had been pitching for the revocation of the AFSPA from at least four districts of the state – two each from Kashmir and Jammu divisions - where the army had not been operating since long.
However, army has opposed the move of the state government saying the security forces would become handicapped without the act, while citing internal and external security concerned.
Latest debate over the move was triggered by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on October 21, when at a police function near Zewan on the outskirts of Srinagar, he declared that the controversial law would be removed from parts of the state “within days”.
On October 25, Omar told a Delhi-based news channel that a decision on AFSPA revocation would be taken before the civil secretariat and other move offices close in Srinagar on October 28 for annual Durbar move to Jammu.
Senior NC leader and Chief Minister’s uncle Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamaal added a new disquieting dimension to the AFSPA revocation controversy when he blamed the army for orchestrating successive grenade attacks across the Valley on October 25 to scuttle the revocation of the law from some parts of the state.
However, it was widely believed that a decision on partial revocation of the controversial law was to be taken in the state cabinet meeting held in Srinagar on October 28.
But, after state Congress and the Army opposed the move tooth and nail, Omar said the issue would be discussed in November after move offices open in Jammu.
“It never came as a proposal (in the cabinet meeting on Oct 28). So how can it be deferred? It was always slated to be discussed formally in Jammu once (move) offices open,” Omar tweeted on micro-blogging site Twitter on October 29.
To pacify his coalition partner Congress and the armed forces, the Chief Minister also stated that he had only made public his “intention” and not any “decision” on partial revocation of AFSPA.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, on October 31 said that there was nothing “unusual” in Omar’s announcement on partial removal of AFSPA from the state as “the move is part of the decisions taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) last September.”
The Unified Headquarters meeting held in Jammu on November 9 again failed to arrive at a decision on the sticky issue as army is believed to have came out openly against the move to partially revoke AFSPA from the state.
On November 10, Omar said in Srinagar that a decision on the issue would be taken after the official panels set-up for the purpose submit their report putting the ball again in army’s court.
The Defence Minister AK Antony on November 11 added a new angle to the raging issue, when he said that the Unified Headquarters in J&K and not the Chief Minister would decide on AFSPA revocation.
On November 13, Omar rushed to New Delhi to meet the central leaders including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister AK Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Army Chief Gen VK Singh to garner support for his AFSPA revocation move.
On his return from Delhi, Chief Minister told reporters in Jammu on Nov 19 that there was ample scope to go ahead with the move (AFSPA revocation) while addressing the concerns of the Army.
On November 21, Omar told a public meeting at Anantnag that while he was on the right track on AFSPA revocation, he won’t set any deadline for the removal of the law from the state. He also said that on AFSPA he was only adhering to the decision taken by CCS last September.
The chief minister again on November 23 triggered another controversy when he told reporters at a dinner hosted by him in Jammu that he was ready to incorporate contentious sections 45 and 197 (A) of the CrPC in the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) to address the Army’s concerns if AFSPA is revoked.
He also announced that an official delegation headed by the state’s home secretary would be visiting the union capital to follow-up on the AFSPA revocation issue with the concerned officers in the central government.
On November 27, NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah took on Army accusing them of having failed to check infiltration. He also said that Army was not the master of JK people and if CM has said that AFSPA should go, it has to go.
On Nov 30, Omar declared at a public meeting in Rafiabad, Baramulla that AFSPA revocation was in a decisive phase while Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said in Delhi that amending RPC was a separate issue not linked to AFSPA revocation. “It is aimed at having a uniform CrPC throughout the country,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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