Omar favours repeal of armed forces' special powers

This is for the first time that Omar has made a categorical statement on the issue that has rankled many in the state. People in the Kashmir Valley allege that the special powers of the security forces were the main factor behind human rights violations in the state.

Omar Abdullah's statement comes in the backdrop of raging street protests and clashes in the valley, where 58 people have been killed since June 11. The chief minister said the government was also seeking "amendment to the law so that the draconian components could be pulled out of it". Simultaneously, he said, the government was trying to identify the "areas less affected by the militancy violence, from where it could be removed. That's being done for both the regions -- the valley and Jammu region."

"We are discussing the matter with New Delhi," he said. Regarding the proposal for the state's autonomy, he said: "We are not taking an extreme position -- this or nothing -- we are willing to have a wider discussion on the subject. It's not a single track thing."

"At the same time, we are looking at the devolution of powers at the regional and sub-regional level (among Jammu, Kashmir and Ladhakh regions)," he said. Omar said that he hoped that after the holy month of Ramadan -- in which Muslims fast -- holding panchayat elections in the state would be possible.  "Panchyati raj would be the best thing for the state," he said.

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