Omar does U-turn on AFSPA

Time not ripe to revoke the Act, says J&K chief minister

Contrary to his earlier stand on revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said situation in the state has not reached a point where the Act could be revoked.

“I wish the stage would have been reached where the AFSPA revocation could have started. But unfortunately, we have not reached that point. There are several reasons for it,” Omar said at a state-level function of Independence Day celebrations here. However, he was quick to add that the controversial law will be revoked within the tenure of the National Conference-Congress coalition government, headed by him.

“I had talked about gradual removal of the AFSPA from some areas, in my speech in the State Assembly and I continuously advocate for its gradual revocation from the areas where there is no need for such a law,” Omar said.

“I recently discussed the matter with the defence minister and the top brass of Indian Army. The issue is alive and I am hopeful that gradual revocation of the AFSPA will start during my government’s tenure,” he added.

However, since then the Army opposed any such move saying this could result in “emergence of terror sanctuaries and safe heavens.”

Sources told Deccan Herald that in his recent visit to Kashmir, the defence minister had disagreed with Omar over his demand for partial withdrawal of the AFSPA from selected areas of the politically sensitive state.

Meanwhile, Omar reiterated that neither gun nor the economic measures can resolve the Kashmir issues, which needed to be addressed politically through a dialogue process.

Favourable conditions

In his yet another call to the leaders possessing different political views (separatists) the chief minister asked them to utilise the prevailing favourable atmosphere and discuss their viewpoint across the table.

He said that Kashmir issue has political genesis and it requires political methodology for effective addressing through a sustained dialogue process.

“Let you come forward and talk for achieving a breakthrough on table which gun could not deliver in 20 years,” he said in an obvious reference to separatists.

Omar said that gun or money can never solve this issue. “Dialogue process is only way forward to address it effectively and meaningfully”, he added.

Stating that the graph of violence in the state has shown considerable downward dip during past some years, the chief minister substantiated his statements by giving figurative facts in this regard.

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