PM hints reviewing special powers to forces in Kashmir

PM hints reviewing special powers to forces in Kashmir

PM hints reviewing special powers to forces in Kashmir

"We understand the prevailing public sentiment on the issue of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act," Manmohan Singh said, addressing a meeting of an all-party delegation from Jammu and Kashmir here.

Political parties, including separatists, have been strongly urging the central government to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, which gives the army legal immunity for their actions. But the BJP is against any changes in the law. 

Manmohan Singh said the Jammu and Kashmir police will "eventually" have to deal with the law and order situation in the state that has been battling an unending armed separatist campaign since 1989.

"They (state police) do not require special powers to discharge their functions. We will help to accelerate the process of strengthening and expanding the J&K police so that they can function independently and effectively within the shortest possible time," the prime minister said. 

Praising the state police and other security forces for "performing an extremely challenging task in difficult circumstances", Manmohan Singh said "many of them have been seriously injured during the past few weeks" of unrest.

"There are elements that are trying to weaken the resolve of the state police and trying to undermine their lawful efforts. I urge the state government to take effective action to protect its policemen and their families. We should not do anything to demoralise the security forces," he said.

This was Manmohan Singh's first statement on the troubled situation in the Kashmir Valley since clashes broke out June 11, killing over 50 people, mostly in firing by security forces.

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