The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday revealed that the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) has lapsed and is not in force any more.
The revelation comes at a time when controversy over revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the state has been making headlines regularly.
“This is to inform you that the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Area Act, 1997, was valid for only one year, and lapsed on October 7, 1998. At present, the Disturbed Area Act is not in force in the state. Therefore, the resolution submitted by you for revocation of the Disturbed Area Act has been disallowed,” Additional Secretary to the J&K Legislative Council revealed in reply to National Conference (NC) member Bashir Veeri.
Veeri had submitted the resolution in the Council secretariat. Agitated over the rejection of his resolution, the NC member walked into the well of the House, demanding adjournment of Question Hour to discuss the issue.
However, Council Chairman Amrit Malhotra didn’t agree with Veeri, saying he had given him the full reply while rejecting the resolution.
As Veeri was not pacified, the Chairman asked the marshals to take him out of the House.
Veeri told reporters outside the House that the absence of the DAA in the state has rendered the continuation of the AFSPA “illegal.” “How the AFSPA is continuing in the state when the state government has to first declare an area disturbed under provisions of the Disturbed Area Act which, however, is not in vogue in the state since 1998,” he asked.
The revelation can create a controversy over the powers of the J&K Police to fire, destroy any arms dump or fortified position being or likely to be used by terrorists, and their immunity from legal prosecution for such actions during counter insurgency operations except with the previous sanction of the state government.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah had last week asked Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to take a Cabinet decision to de-notify the DAA which can set the stage for revocation of the AFSPA from certain ‘peaceful’ areas of the state.
Mufti had on Monday said that his government will gradually repeal the contentious
AFSPA from the state.
“Keeping in view the improving security scenario, the state government will examine the need for denotifying ‘disturbed areas’, which have been free from militancy-related incidents for quite some time,” Mufti had said.
“Some Army Commanders are apprehensive over this move. They will be taken on-board over the decision. I will do it with their (Army’s) consultation and after taking them on board.”