External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today said Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was needed in Jammu and Kashmir to protect the lives of soldiers as they are the ones who defend the country.

“This case is not to be decided by me. It is to be taken by the Home Minister, Defence Minister and, of course, the Prime Minister, who will finally take a call,” Mr. Khurshid said.

He added that there was a sense of loss and tragedy, which was not only limited to the civilian population of places where AFSPA was in force.

“You think it is limited to only one section. We have lost some very brave people also. They did not come here on their own will. They were given orders. The latest count is of eight Army people who lost their lives,” he said in an apparent reference to the Srinagar terror attack on June 24, a day before the Prime Minister’s visit to the state.

The Union minister said that, irrespective of grievances against any state agency, people working there are also human beings who need to be protected.

Referring to AFSPA in the north-east and drawing a parallel with Kashmir, Mr. Khurshid said, “This kind of discourse and discussion goes on there also. No one imposes AFSPA for fun. Circumstances become such that it has to be imposed. What kind of supervision and accountability should be there is discussed not only here but also in Delhi by people who are not under this Act,” he added.