Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday did some tough talking with the Army at a meeting of the Unified Command Headquarters. He insisted that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) had to be partially withdrawn from the State, but it was met with stiff resistance.
“No is not an option,” Mr. Abdullah said emphatically at the nearly three-hour-long meeting.
The Army cautioned that even a partial withdrawal would be detrimental to the security apparatus, sources privy to the meeting said.
The Army made a presentation highlighting the importance of AFSPA in fighting militancy.
The Chief Minister said people need to have some semblance of peace returning.
A government spokesman came out with a brief release, saying the meeting was chaired by the Chief Minister and the overall security scenario was reviewed.
“The meeting, which was also attended by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, discussed in detail the partial removal of AFSPA from different parts of the State and the various constituents of the Unified Command Headquarters gave their view point on the issue,” the spokesperson said.
The Chief Minister directed the Corps Commanders of Jammu and Srinagar Corps as well as Director-General of Police Kuldeep Khoda and Home Secretary B.R. Sharma to hold meetings on withdrawal of the Disturbed Areas Act at the earliest and hand over their reports to the government.
Holding that the government had to have courage to take a decision on AFSPA, he questioned the need for “protection” to the Army in areas where they have not operated for years