Chidambaram calls AFSPA obnoxious

Triggers row ahead of J&K Assembly polls

Chidambaram calls  AFSPA obnoxious

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram’s criticism of the “obnoxious” Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) ahead of the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir has triggered a fresh controversy, with the Narendra Modi-led government accusing the Congress of being “opportunistic”.

The immediate trigger for the controversy was the sentencing of five Armymen for life on Thursday for killing three civilians in Kashmir’s Machil sector in 2010.

Chidambaram, who was Union home minister when the killings took place, was quick to call the AFSPA an “obnoxious” law that has no place in a modern, civilised country.

Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju trashed Chidambaram’s remarks as “opportunistic”. “Chidambaram’s statement is very opportunistic and unfortunate.

Now, just because he is out of power and there is an election in Jammu and Kashmir, he should not just make a statement regarding AFSPA,” he told reporters here.
BJP leader and Chidambaram’s bete noire Subramanian Swamy said the Congress leader’s statement was “idiotic”, and that AFSPA would not be diluted under any circumstances.

'Cong, PDP didn't help'

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, campaigning for the Assembly elections in his Ganderbal constituency, claimed that he did not receive any support from the Congress and the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) when he had demanded the revocation of AFSPA in 2011.

The National Conference (NC) leader acknowledged that Chidambaram was in favour of repealing AFSPA, but could not convince his colleagues in the Union Cabinet at that time.

Abdullah hit out at the PDP, accusing it of politicising the issue. “Had they (Congress and the PDP) extended their complete support to us, we could perhaps have talked on a unified platform and achieved something. But they did not. They saw politics in it and thought that its credit would go to the NC and they would be at loss, so they opposed it,” he said.

The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act came into effect in July 1990, and provides legal protection to the Armed Forces while they carry out operations against militants in the region. The controversial Machil killings had triggered widespread protests and bloodshed in the Kashmir Valley, and led to calls for the scrapping of AFSPA.

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