Making a strong pitch for removal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said the Army was not the “master” of the people of the State and that it should concentrate on choking infiltration of terrorists.

Mr. Abdullah also said the local police and Central Reserve Police Force were capable enough to take over security responsibilities in the areas from where AFSPA was likely to be removed. He described the AFSPA as a “draconian” law.

“[The] people of Jammu and Kashmir are masters of the State. The Army is not the master. It is only [there] to protect. It will continue to protect the interests of the nation,” Mr. Abdullah told Karan Thapar in “Devil's Advocate” telecast on CNN-IBN. He said the job of the Army was to guard the border so that infiltration did not take place and that police and the CRPF were ready to handle other matters.

Mr. Abdullah, who heads the New and Renewable Energy Ministry, made it clear that it was not a war between the Army and the Abdullahs as projected by some sections of the media and said: “...these are questions of concerns for all of us. Whether they are Army's or of civilians.”

“There are certain things we have to do for the betterment of the people, for the feeling of the people that ‘yes the situation is better.' That we are getting better. The people of the State feel that AFPSA should go,” he said.

“Army failing”

Asked whether the political leadership of the State was better equipped to handle the situation, Mr. Abdullah asked: “What do they [Army] handle? If they are able to handle, how the hell do these terrorists come. How are they coming if they are able to handle [the situation].”

He said the Army was failing to handle the situation as “otherwise how do they enter?” — PTI