AFSPA not draconian, says Army vice chief

"It (AFSPA) is not a draconian law. It is a functional Act," Army Vice Chief Lt Gen P C Bhardwaj told reporters here on the sidelines of a Defence Ministry event.

Noting that senior officers had already made the armed forces' stand on the Act clear, Bharadwaj said the Army had "no role" in the recent round of law and order problems, control of mobs and the firing.

He said the security forces enjoyed "a good equation" with the population in the border areas, including in Jammu and Kashmir.

While politicians from Jammu and Kashmir, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, have been demanding a withdrawal of AFSPA from the state, the Centre seemed divided on the issue, with reported differences between the Defence and the Home ministries over the prudence of such a move.

At recent Congress Core Group and Cabinet Committee on Security meetings, the differences were said to have come to the fore with Defence Minister A K Antony and Home Minister P Chidambaram expressing divergent views on the issue.

Asked about Chinese military presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) and the build up of infrastructure along the Sino-Indian borders by Beijing, Bharadwaj said India would respond to these developments "appropriately."

He said development of capabilities and infrastructure along the borders was carried out by both sides.

"We too are developing capabilities and infrastructure along the borders.The field commanders usually take appropriate action on a real time basis," he said.

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