Differences within UPA over AFSPA out in open

Differences within the United Progressive Alliance government on amending the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act came out in the open on Wednesday.

Defence Minister A K Antony warned against any hasty move to amend the AFSPA, while his Cabinet colleague Finance Minister P Chidambaram wondered why the armed forces were so opposed to amendments that would make the controversial legislation more
humane.

“The armed forces, and especially the Chief of Army Staff, the present one and the previous one, have taken a very strong position that AFSPA should not be amended,” Chidambaram, who was the Home Minister of the UPA government till August 2012, said after delivering the K Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi on Wednesday.

He said that the strong stand taken by the armed forces had made it difficult for the government to amend the AFSPA. “Now, how does the government move forward in the face of such widely divergent views on the sensitive subject?” wondered Chidambaram, while replying to a question on the issue.

Both Chidambaram and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah are known to be in favour of amending the AFSPA, which gives certain special powers and legal immunity to the armed forces personnel while combating militancy in troubled areas.

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