AFSPA may be revoked in JK if situation improves: HM

RSTV Bureau

AFSPA-genUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh is of view that the Central government may look at revoking the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) if the situation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir seems favourable from the point of view of national security.

The Home Minister is on a two-day visit to Kashmir to take stock of the security and rehabilitation in the areas affected by the near-flood like situation after heavy rains last week.

“I want to say that the situation should be such, and I pray to Almighty, that AFSPA should not be needed anywhere in the country. We will need cooperation of one and all to achieve this goal,” Rajnath Singh told the press in Srinagar.

Rajnath Singh’s remarks have come a day after BJP’s alliance partner PDP had criticised the MoS Jitendra Singh on the issue of AFSPA.

MoS PMO Jitendra Singh had on Wednesday said that he disfavoured even a partial withdrawal of the AFSPA. Jitendra Singh, who is also the BJP MP from Udhampur constituency of Jammu and Kashmir, underlined that the last word on revoking AFSPA would come only from the security agencies and not from political functionaries.

Expressing disagreement with Jitendra Singh’s opinion, PDP’s senior leader Mehboob Beg had said, “In a democracy, it has to be the elected representatives who have to take the final call on this and despite the commendable service that the Armed Forces do towards the nation, one has to be very clear that taking decisions on such issues do not fall within their domain,”.

For a long time now, the issue of AFSPA has become a contention between state government and the Centre. Also, the issue of revocation of AFSPA is among the subjects agreed between the BJP and the PDP to arrive at their ‘Agenda of Alliance’. The coalition government of Jammu and Kashmir was formed after several rounds of talks between BJP and PDP. Seen at an ideological variance, the two had cobbled up alliance after drafting the Common Minimum Programme.

“While both parties have historically held a different view on the AFSPA and the need for it in the State at present, as part of the agenda for governance of this alliance, the coalition government will examine the need for de-notifying ‘disturbed areas’. This, as a consequence, would enable the Union Government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas,” the part of ‘Agenda of Alliance’ reads.

Besides, the Union Home minister dismissed any near possibility of engaging with the separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. On the question of holding any talks with the separatist groups like Hurriyat, Rajnath Singh said, “We have no proposal to hold talks with the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir”.

“We are ready to listen (and) talk to anyone but anti-national activities should be opposed and boycotted”, he stressed further.

However, Rajnath Singh once again expressed hopes that the situation in Kashmir will improve.

“I am confident that the situation in Kashmir will not be allowed to deteriorate. We need the cooperation of people of Jammu and people of Kashmir for improving the situation here,” the Union Home minister said.