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AFSPA may go this year, assures Omar
Published on 5 Mar. 2011 11:13 PM IST
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The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, granting immunity to the army and paramilitary forces in anti-insurgency operations, may go from some parts of Jammu and Kashmir this year, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Saturday.
“Militancy is constantly on the decline and if it continues in this fashion, I can assure you that the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) and Armed Forces Special Powers Act may be removed from the state this year itself, what to talk of during the tenure of my government (till 2015),” Abdullah declared in the legislative assembly while replying to the motion of thanks on the governor’s address to the joint session of the legislature on Feb 28.
Abdullah said the government has already removed 40 bunkers from the summer capital of Srinagar and also reduced the strength of Central Reserve Police Force by two battalions (approximately 1,200 personnel) and held out promise that “more would be reduced from Srinagar and other towns”.
“Not only that, we are also planning to thin out the presence of the army from the built up areas in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
The removal of AFSPA and DAA have become part of the hot political debate in Kashmir politics. While it has been a consistent demand of the ruling National Conference, main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and separatists, the army is opposed to withdrawal of AFSPA.
The army chief Gen. V.K. Singh in his observations has said that “AFSPA was needed for the anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir”.
Abdullah also denounced the criticism that thousands have been arrested in the Kashmir Valley. “It’s simply not true,” he said.
“The truth is that 4,064 were arrested, of whom 3,900 are out on bail,” he said.
Omar praises PDP
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday praised Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senior leader Muzaffar Hussain Beig whose allegation against him in July 2009 linking him to an infamous sex scandal led him to quit his post.
“God knows, I have differences with Muzaffar Beig but he made an excellent, almost statesman like, intervention in the assembly today,” Omar tweeted about a speech of the PDP leader in the legislative assembly Saturday in which he reflected on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and made a strong defence of Article 370 of the Indian constitution that grants special status to the state.
Beig, former deputy chief minister, was speaking on the motion of thanks on the governor’s address.
Beig had linked the chief minister to the sex scandal that had rocked Srinagar in 2006. The charge was later described as “baseless”, but made Omar Abdullah put in his papers.
However, Governor N.N. Vohra had refused to accept the resignation.
A sex scandal hit the Valley in 2006. According to reports, girls, including minors, were coerced into prostitution, blackmailed and supplied to top police officials, bureaucrats, politicians, ministers and surrendered militants. The state witnessed angry protests over the issue.

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