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“Time not ripe for revoking AFSPA”

Special Correspondent
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This decision should not bepoliticised, says Army Chief

IN AGONY:Relatives of CRPF jawan Omprakash Mardaniya, who was killed along with four other jawans in Srinagar in Wednesday’s militant attack, are inconsolable during his funeral rites at his native village Shahpura in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh on Friday.— PHOTO: A.M. Faruqui
IN AGONY:Relatives of CRPF jawan Omprakash Mardaniya, who was killed along with four other jawans in Srinagar in Wednesday’s militant attack, are inconsolable during his funeral rites at his native village Shahpura in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh on Friday.— PHOTO: A.M. Faruqui

The “time is not ripe” for revoking the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Jammu and Kashmir, Army Chief General Bikram Singh said on Friday, two days after five CRPF personnel were killed in a fidayeen attack in Srinagar and even as rights groups have been pressing for its repeal.

At the India Today conclave here, General Singh, termed the Act an “enabler.” He said, “It is the Army’s job to give recommendations and inform the government of the ground reality. I feel the time is not ripe at this moment to remove the AFSPA… It is important to remain on guard.”

Referring to Wednesday’s attack, he said it was important “to wait and watch” before taking a decision on repealing the AFSPA, which grants immunity to the armed forces and whose repeal has been demanded by political parties of the State and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

“The nation has to take a decision which is pragmatic in terms of national security. This decision should not be politicised. The Army always works to strengthen the hand of the States in areas where it is deployed. This is not fun for us; nobody wants to fight terrorists and die.”

The terror infrastructure across the Line of Control was still intact. One of the terrorists killed in the recent Srinagar attack was of Pakistani origin. A number of external factors were “impinging” on the security environment in the State.

“This decision [on the AFSPA] has to be taken in the backdrop of violence profile, in the backdrop of what can happen in future, in the backdrop of futuristic contours. We have to be very confident that it does not relapse. We shall not be left in a position of disadvantage,” he said, adding it was up to the government to take the decision.


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