Revocation through consensus: Prof Soz
Srinagar, Nov 4: A day after Lieutenant General KT Parnaik, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command said the time was not ripe to revoke Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from any part of Jammu and Kashmir, the Pradesh Congress Committee Chief (JKPCC) Prof Saifuddin Soz Friday said the Act could be repealed through consensus. “Now that the principle of consultation on AFSPA has been accepted all around, there should be no controversy on its revocation,” Soz said while addressing the party workers here.
“On AFSPA issue my position is clear. It is a temporary measure that was devised to fight back sponsored militancy. Now it can be repealed through consensus, among at least, the main stakeholders,” he added.
Pertinently, when Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced last month that time had come to revoke AFSPA, which provides impunity to soldiers operating in JK, Prof Soz had taken on the Chief Minister head on saying, “He (Omar) did not take his coalition partner Congress into confidence. AFSPA cannot be revoked without taking all the security agencies on the board.”
Many Congress leaders had supported Soz for his stand on AFSPA and blamed Omar Abdullah for taking a “unilateral decision.” The senior Congress leader and Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla had taken up the issue of revocation of AFSPA in the last cabinet meeting held in Srinagar. Bhalla, according to the sources, had expressed “dismay” over Omar not taking his cabinet colleagues into confidence. After Bhalla had made his point Chief Minister had briefed the cabinet about steps being taken to revoke AFSPA.
Professor Soz, who recently returned from New Delhi after meeting top Congress leaders, including Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, has softened his stand on AFSPA revocation. “Soz discussed AFSPA revocation with Chidambaram threadbare,” sources said. “Chidambaram told Soz not to go all out against Omar on AFSPA revocation, but he agreed to Soz’s demand to have consensus over the issue.”
Professor Soz said that he discussed many issues with Chidambaram, including AFSPA, but he refused to comment on whether the Union Home Minister asked him not to oppose AFSPA revocation. “Our stand on AFSPA revocation is clear. We wanted that everyone should be taken on board before any decision on the revocation of the Act is taken from any part of the state. That is being done as the issue will now be formally discussed in cabinet and the Unified Headquarters meeting,” he told Greater Kashmir.
Sources said that Valley based Congress activists have informed the party leadership to exercise restraint. “If the party opposes AFSPA revocation openly there is ever possibility of Congress losing ground in the Valley,” sources quoted activists as having told the Congress leaders.
Earlier this week Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had told a New Delhi based news channel that he had not announced his decision about revoking AFSPA from a few selected areas of the state. “I had announced my intention and the Government is ready to debate the issue,” Omar had said.
The spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Nayeem Akther described the ongoing debate on AFSPA between the coalition partners as “shadow boxing.”
“Our party’s stand on AFSPA is clear. It has to go. Omar is using it as an instrument to divert the attention from the gravest crisis which Abdullah family is facing presently,” he added.
A senior politician wishing not be named said that state Congress and National Conference have got nothing to do with AFSPA revocation. “The decision on it has to be taken by Army’s top brass and the leaders in New Delhi.”
Lastupdate on : Fri, 4 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 4 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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