Give democracy a chance

The revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by the state of Tripura has ignited

The revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by the state of Tripura has ignited

demands for a similar move on Jammu & Kashmir. Tripura government's move is indeed a welcome one and comes after years of struggle to overcome militarization, and establishing primacy for democratic political process in achieving political justice. However, it would be politically naïve to compare Tripura with Jammu & Kashmir, and expect the same executive process leading to the revocation of AFSPA here.

Technically and legally speaking, it is within the competence of Jammu & Kashmir state to repeal this law. However, it is hard to imagine Jammu & Kashmir's democratically elected dispensation being able to steer a similar process leading to a unilateral revocation of this act without the union government's political concurrence and support. Jammu & Kashmir is defined by a distinctly different history, geography, political circumstances and constitutional status. Its post-1947 history bears testimony to that fact that the government of India has closely held the political and constitutional cards related to such laws in the state. There has been little or no room to the democratic set-up in the state in exercising its authority to decide in such matters.

Even the voices advocating for the state government to take similar unilateral action and recommend to the Governor to repeal the act are justified, it is debatable if the union government would let such a move succeed in the face of its over reliance on military means in managing the political turmoil in the state. Moreover, there is continued opposition from the Army and some sections of the country's political establishment. Jammu & Kashmir is fundamentally a political problem that has no military solution. With a drastic decrease in armed insurgency in the state there is no need for the army to operate in civilian spheres. A genuine democratic process alone can help J&K state to position itself in facilitating a dignified and just resolution to the outstanding Kashmir question. Genuine democracy has to be given a chance. 

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