ASG’s comments revive troop-cut debate
‘JK Govt Has Final Word On Deployment, Withdrawal Of Army’
Srinagar, Feb 7: The statement of the Additional Solicitor General that Army is deployed in Jammu and Kashmir at the request of state government is set to generate a debate about the deployment of central forces here.
While Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has repeatedly sought reduction the imprints of the central forces in JK since he took over in 2009, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been pressing for troop-cut since 2002.
While the legal experts argue that if the Centre asserts that Army is at the call of JK Government, then the state should have the final word on their pullout while. The mainstream politicians contend that the time has come for visible reduction in troops from the state.
“And the army is not voluntarily there. It is deployed at the request of the state government in the disturbed areas of Kashmir which have been declared as disturbed under Declaration of Disturbed Areas Act,” the Additional Solicitor General PP Malhotra said in Supreme Court on Friday while appearing in Pathribal case on behalf the Army. He also argued that the army does not act independently, but acts in aid of the local police and the civil authorities for maintenance of public order and counter-militant activities.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Advocate Syed Riyaz Khawar said the Army can be requisitioned by state administration in both the normal and abnormal conditions for assistance.
“State has the final word on deployment as well as withdrawal of Army and central paramilitary forces in JK. If Governor Jagmohan called them in 90’s for the aid of civil administration, I believe that state government has the powers to tell them that we don’t need your services as local police can perform the task now,” he said.
Khawar said: “It was Governor who promulgated Armed Forces Special Ordinance which was later replaced by Central legislation, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to empower forces here. Under section (3) of the Act, the area where AFSPA has to be imposed is to be declared as Disturbed Area by the Central or State Government. And in our case, the areas were declared disturbed by the Governor. And If Disturbed Area status is lifted, AFSPA will become redundant and then forces cannot have free hand here. If they are required, then concerned deputy commissioner has to send requisition for it and forces have to work under him.”
Without going into legal nitty-gritty, the political parties here feel the time has come when JK should say goodbye to the forces operating here.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Naeem Akthar said the Army has done its job and state should now tell them that “we don’t need your services and they must respect it.”
“The Armed Forces Special Powers Act has outlived its utility. Time has come to give full space to civil institutions and democratically elected government and the administration it needs. If state government now tells them go back to barracks, it is better late than never. This country is now debating whether there should be any immunity to Prime Minister and in such a situation it looks out of place that some other institution should be insulated against prosecution in cases where there are complaints of extra- judicial killings and other crimes,” Akthar said.
National Conference, Member Parliament Dr Mehboob Beg also echoed the similar views.
“The continuous deployment of soldiers in Kashmir is neither in the interest of India nor bridging its gap with Kashmir. If situation has improved to a large extent what is the purpose of keeping large forces concentration in the Valley,” Beg said.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 7 Feb 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 7 Feb 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 8 Feb 2012 00:00:00 IST
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