AFSPA not to be diluted: Army chief

Terrorism spillover possible from Af

Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh on Monday argued against any dilution of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, citing inputs about the possibility of spillover of terrorism after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

He also cautioned against any immediate move to lessen the role of the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

“We need to look at developments in Afghanistan in 2014 before we can look at perhaps tampering with or diluting the Disturbed Areas (Act). This is in regard to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir,” Gen Singh told a news conference ahead of the Army Day to be celebrated next Wednesday. 

He also said that certain inputs had already alluded to the possibility of a spillover of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir after the withdrawal of the US-led International Security Assistance Force from Afghanistan.

Aam Aaadmi Party leader and eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan recently stated that a referendum should be carried out to know opinion of the people of Jammu and Kashmir if the Army should remain engaged in managing security in the State.

He also argued against the AFSPA, a controversial law, which is being allegedly misused for violation of human rights in conflict zones of the country.

Gen Singh declined to comment on the opinion of Bhushan, but said that it would be prudent to wait and watch for some more time before making any changes in the security framework of Jammu and Kashmir.

“As per military's perspective, (in view of) the situation prevailing in the Valley, I think we should wait for a while to see whether the situation remains the same, worsens or improves. Based on that we should take action,” said the Army Chief.

Gen Singh also talked tough on the ceasefire breaches by the Pakistani Army along the Line of Control and International Border and said that Indian Army personnel had strongly responded to repeated truce violations by the soldiers of the neighbouring country and would continue to do so in future. 

He said that after the brutal killing of two Indian Army soldiers by military personnel of Pakistan near Mendhar in Jammu and Kashmir on January 8 last year, the local commanders had been given freedom to deal with any situation (emerging out of ceasefire violations along the LoC) as they deemed appropriate.

He, however, noted that the ceasefire violations had stopped after the Director General of Military Operations, Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia had talked to his Pakistani counterpart Maj Gen Amir Riyaz over phone on October 27 last. The two DGMOs also met at Wagah-Attari border on December 24 last to explore way to maintain ceasefire.

He said that the firing along the LoC in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir in the early hours on Monday was the first such incident after the DGMOs talked over phone and met. He added that the Indian Army soldiers had opened fire after spotting some terrorists making an attempt to infiltrate from across the border. The Pakistani Army had also opened fire in retaliation. “We will give them a befitting reply if infiltration is attempted,” he said.

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