“Terrorism and separatist violence need both political and security responses”

The Bharatiya Janata Party has joined the debate on the pros and cons of revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 from some parts of Jammu and Kashmir by maintaining that it is not prudent to discuss the subject at a juncture when “circumstances still warrant the continuation” of the operation of the law in the entire State.

In a note here on Friday on the debate triggered by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley argued that the State was a disturbed area for over two decades and any laxity on the security front would give a fillip to violence and separatist activities.

‘Harsh but necessary

Terming it “harsh but necessary,” Mr. Jaitley said that terror and separatist violence needed both political and security responses. When he visited the State last year as part of an all-party delegation, he was informed by the officers of the paramilitary forces that more than 2,500 applications for prosecution of the officials of the armed forces and other paramilitary forces for alleged acts of indiscipline and withdrawal of the law from parts of the State would take away the protection provided to them under the Act that entailed prior permission of the Centre for proceeding action them.

“In case this protection is withdrawn, it would empower various vested interests to prosecute officials of the armed forces and other paramilitary forces indiscriminately under this Act,” Mr. Jaitley said.

He argued that it would be a disincentive for personnel of the armed forces from taking adequate steps against separatist groups. “We seriously hope that a situation does emerge in future that the applicability of this law is either not necessary or is restricted only to some areas. That situation does not seem to have arrived as yet.”