Govt not in hurry to repeal AFSPA, says Shinde

Chidambaram and Omar Abdullah advocated annulling of the Act

In a major shift in stance, Home Minister Shushil Kumar Shinde on Tuesday said the government is in no hurry to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu & Kashmir, which had been on the ministry’s priority list when P Chidambaram was at the helm.

Chidambaram and J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah strongly advocated repealing of AFSPA in the state, despite Ministry of Defence holding its ground in the issue.

Speaking to reporters at the NSG raising day in Manesar in neighbouring Haryana, Shinde admitted that the situation has been peaceful in the valley. However, he said the time is not right to rescind the AFSPA in the state.

"We will wait for some more time," Shinde, fresh from a trip to the state recently, said when asked if the Act should be withdrawn in the state.  “It’s not appropriate to keep the military always on (law and order) duty),” he added. 

The Home Minister ventured at the market place for some shopping and made no secret of his excitement at the peaceful situation in the valley. "I went to the market in a private car without any security and roamed as you people do in Delhi," he said.

Keeping controversies at bay, which is at the heart of his style of functioning, Shinde had taken a turn on a series of decision made by Chidambaram that threatened to put the Ministry on collision course with other ministries and with the states.

Besides AFSPA, the minister stalled on pulling back armed forces from the Naxal hit states including Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Odisha, while virtually turning his back on National Counter Terrorism Centre , suggesting a dialogue with the states.

The decision to have a powerful terrorism centre had been opposed by several chief ministers, including Mamata Banerjee, who felt it trampled on the state’s role.

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