Chief of the Army Staff General V.K. Singh on Thursday refused to be publicly drawn into the debate over withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir, stating the Army gave its views and the issue fell under the Union Home Ministry.
With Chief Minister Omar Abdullah stating that the Act could be withdrawn from some districts of the State, including Srinagar, Gen. Singh said the Army had given its inputs and the Home Ministry was debating over it.
“This [AFSPA] is within the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs. They are debating this and we have given our inputs. I would not like to say anything more,” he said after attending the Infantry Day function here.
The Army favoured the continuation of the AFSPA in J&K as it provided the forces necessary powers and legal protection to carry out counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.
The Army had maintained that since armed forces operated in hostile environment, both to defend the borders and carry out counter-terrorism operations, they needed powers and legal support to avoid legal action and prosecution while doing their duty.
Repealing the Act would, among other things, affect pro-active operations, as the forces would not have the powers to arrest or search any individual or premises, suspected to be indulging in or being used for such activities. Also, they would not be able to use any force to defuse any situation other than in self-defence. It would also take away the forces' power to destroy ammunition dumps and deactivate improvised explosive devices.