Who will have the last laugh - Omar or Army?
‘JK Can Emulate Manipur To Make AFSPA Infructuous’
Srinagar, Nov 12: While Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday said the two state-level official committees, set up last October to view possibility of revoking the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), should make their recommendations known to him, the Army says the recommendations are already with the chief minister.
While sources close to senior army officers associated with the two panels maintain that the recommendations have already been submitted to the Chief Minister, army’s Udhampur-based northern command chief, Lt Gen K T Parnaik earlier this year had even gone to the extent of saying that there was no response from the Chief Minister to the recommendations of the committees submitted to him.
“Two committees headed by General Officer Commanders of the Nagrota-based 16 Corps and Srinagar-based 15 Corps were formed last year to review the applicability of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir. After they (Committees) completed the review of the Act, the recommendations were submitted to the state Chief Minister. We have not heard anything about the issue since,” Lt Gen Parnaik had told reporters on May 14, 2011 on the sidelines of two-day “Army Mela” at the Regimental Centre of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry at Rangreth here. He was flanked by GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain, who heads one of these panels.
Parnaik said in their recommendations, the two panels, have made it clear that the time is not ripe for removing AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir. “One of the recommendation says that time was not ripe for removing AFSPA from the state,” he had said.
The two panels headed by GOC of the Nagrota-based 16 Corps and Srinagar-based 15 Corps and comprising Home Secretary B R Sharma, DGP Kuldeep Khoda, Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu, Special Director General CRPF and Additional Director Intelligence Bureau as members were constituted as a follow-up to the eight-point initiative announced by the Centre last October in the wake of violent summer unrest in the Valley.
The committee headed by GOC of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps held its last meeting on January 14, 2011. The recommendations of the panel, according to Army, were submitted to the Chief Minister in February 2011.
Omar on Thursday while sidestepping army’s opposition to AFSPA revocation, asked the official panels to go-over their recommendations again as he didn’t want to listen “no” on AFSPA withdrawal from selected parts of the state.
Chief Minister minced no words when he said that being the head of the elected government in the state, he had the authority to withdraw AFSPA from JK. “In this case (revocation of the AFSPA) authority is vested in the Governor, who acts on the basis of the recommendations of the state government,” he said.
“So I don’t think it is anybody’s case, least of all the army’s, which feels that the state government has no authority,” the Chief Minister said.
The army, on the other hand, says it is not trying to draw any mileage out of the “sensitive” issue. “We have given our recommendations and perspective to the official panels in February. But till date we didn’t hear anything from the state government,” wishing not to be named, a senior army officer dealing with the issue in 15 Corps said. He maintained that the panel would sit again and review the recommendations already submitted. “The decision on AFSPA has to be through consensus,” he said.
The Defence Minister AK Antony Friday 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.
Constitutional experts believe that if the state government is serious on AFSPA revocation, it can emulate Manipur on the issue. “There is a precedent in the north-eastern state of Manipur where the state government unilaterally withdrew Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) from Imphal in 2004 making the AFSPA infructuous. After taking a decision on AFSPA in the state cabinet, Manipur home department issued a notification withdrawing DAA from seven assembly segments of Imphal. The centre too did not re-impose the Act in these areas. With the result the Army was immediately replaced by Manipur Police in the areas from where DAA was revoked,” said a political analyst adding that why can’t J&K government do the same, if it is serious.
AFSPA is in force in 20 out of 22 districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh and Kargil are the only two districts, where it hasn’t been enforced in view of no militancy in Ladakh region. The Act was imposed in some parts of the state in 1990 with the outbreak of militancy and was extended to entire the state in 2001.
The latest debate over AFSPA revocation in the state flared-up, after Omar at a police function near Zewan, on the outskirts of Srinagar, on October 21 announced that AFSPA 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 for annual Durbar move to Jammu on October 28.
It was widely believed that a decision on partial revocation of the controversial law would be taken in the state cabinet meeting held here on October 28.
However, after state Congress and the Army opposed the move tooth and nail, Omar had 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 offices open,” Omar tweeted on microblogging site Twitter on October 29.
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 panel set-up for the purpose submit their report putting the ball again in army’s court.
Only time will tell who is going to have the last laugh in this latest showdown between Omar and Army!
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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