Save us from squinted views
AFSPA Revocation is to be seen from all possible perspectives
IMPRESSIONS BY BINOO JOSHI
What’s this debate about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. I find the whole debate about the revocation of the special powers to the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir, illogical. The special powers should be there when needed, why should those be there when those are not needed. It was the state government in July 1990 and August 2001 which invoked the Disturbed Area Act and AFSPA in the state, and why should the state government not repeal these provisions when it feels that the things can be handled without these extraordinary measures. This is logical.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is playing politics when he declared that the AFSPA will be lifted from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir “ within days”. It’s politics, because there is not much change on the ground from the situation that existed when he took over in January 2009. He could have started with the lifting of the AFSPA then, without seeking anyone’s permission. Peoples Democratic Party had raised pitch over the issue during the rule of its ally Congress in 2007 in a big way and finally multiplied the issues and brought about the fall of the Ghulam Nabi Azad government. So there was a sort of political competition that Omar had inherited nearly three years ago. His fault is that he wanted to be seen on the side of Delhi that time, which had propelled him to the post of Chief Minister for “ six years” and went by the dictum of the Kashmir politics that Delhi matters the most. Times have changed and the people in Jammu and Kashmir wanted a changed Chief Minister in him- he was 38 that time, exposed to the world and had made a name for himself in the Central government. He was regarded as one of the brightest faces of the NDA government as long he was a minister in the union government. The task that he was assigned, or he sought for himself, is one of the most difficult in India. It’s a simple matter of reasoning that he should have known this bitter truth. His grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and father Farooq Abdullah had passed through the most difficult phases when they were heading the government in the state. Since January 2003, it has become obvious that Chief Minister is unaware of his powers, and his knowledge of history and the constitution should have matched his reputation who had come with a whiff of fresh of air on the scene in the state. Otherwise, the constitutional wizards like Subramaniam Swamy would not have questioned his powers. Mr. Swamy needs to learn one basic fact that Jammu and Kashmir has its own constitution and the Chief Minister in the state enjoys many more powers than his counterparts in other states of the country.
Now a technical point: the army is opposed to the revocation of AFSPA. It has its own reasons. No one wants to shed the powers. That’s one part. The other part is that it’s the army, BSF and CRPF and to some extent the police that have felt the brunt of guns of the militants. Imagine a soldier standing in his bunker 24/7 or combing jungles, fighting militants, not knowing from where the bullets or mortars would be fired at him. If he is made conscious of the fact that he would have to explain every act of his, attend the courts explaining everything he did and the circumstances that warrant, perhaps no counter-insurgency would ever be successful. This is true of all nations. That’s the point for the political leadership to ponder.
And, there is something for the army generals to ponder. How would they feel if there is 24/7 presence of the soldiers outside their homes, peeping all the time and the inmates living under constant fear of getting shot or hauled up for being mere suspects of harbouring militants, with the men in uniform having nothing to explain.
Both the situations are real. There was a need to communicate with each other, understand the perspective. What was true in 1990 is unthinkable now. At the same time, those who are opposing the lifting of the DAA or AFSPA, say for example in south of Pir Panjal, should be asked what have they gained with these tags. The business has gone down. Now when they are keen to retain this tag, how many tourists or pilgrims would step in an area which is disturbed. A beginning must be made.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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