The problem in the Kashmir Valley can certainly not be resolved by withdrawing AFSPA (“Congress Core Group split on withdrawal of Armed Forces Act,” Sept. 11). Without the help of the armed forces and AFSPA, it may be difficult to contain the unrest in the Valley. The use of the powers to arrest and kill by the army is based on the situation on the ground. We cannot take a decision on withdrawing the special powers before ascertaining the situation. Instead of having a meeting of Ministers and the higher-ups, the Centre should invite local leaders of those districts of Kashmir where unrest prevails.

G. Arun,

Kumbakonam

The editorial “A law that's past its use-by date” (Sept.10) is timely. It is shameful that we should have used repressive laws such as AFSPA for so long. The memory of the murder of Th. Manorama is still vivid in our minds. The fact that the government has imposed a military-like rule in the States which it could not administer with the willing participation of people points to its utter failure to address the problems politically.

Jai Shankar Agarwala,

Jalpaiguri

In any encounter between the armed forces and insurgents, it is the civilians and students who suffer the most. When civilians are killed, the Centre remains deaf and dumb. I do not know how many people have had a firsthand experience of AFSPA but the people of the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir face it in their everyday lives. It is time the Centre realised that force is the brainchild of violence. No concrete solution will emerge by conferring special powers on the army.

Sholounii,

Senapati

AFSPA is invoked in States where the civil administration fails and the elected government feels the army needs to be called in to exercise maximum force to retain the integrity of the nation. The police, too, enjoy powers under various Sections of the CrPC like Section 41. Is it not common to see policemen abusing motorists at checkpoints or beating up people without a charge or refusing to lodge an FIR? What is draconian? A civil service that behaves like the British Raj or AFSPA which is invoked when the nation's existence is in danger?

Lt Col S.K. Menon (retd.),

Coimbatore

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