Centre Explores Phase-wise Withdrawal Of AFSPA In J & K

28 June 2009
The Hindu


New Delhi: The Centre is considering a proposal for phased withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir following a strong case made out by state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for scrapping it with the Central leadership. To begin with, Centre is likely to explore the possibility of phased withdrawal of the AFSPA in two districts of Kashmir – Srinagar and Budgam – and two in Jammu region – Jammu and Kathua where incidents of violence has shown a marked decline, official sources said. The Chief Minister has held a series of meetings with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony during the recent past where he raised the issue of either amending the AFSPA, repealing it or taking it out of the state in a phased manner. Mr. Omar gave a roadmap for its phased withdrawal beginning with the districts which have registered no or bare minimum violence during the past one year and in this context he gave examples of the four districts. Sources in the Government said that while the situation in militancy-hit state has improved to a large extent, a serious thought could be given to the state’s demand. A meeting between Home and Defence Ministries officials may be held soon to elicit the views of the Army and Central para-military forces, which have been fighting militancy in Jammu and Kashmir for the past two decades, the sources said.