Can’t Have Islands Of Peace, Army Counters Omar On Scrapping AFSPA9 November 2011
The Indian Express
Jammu: The Army today opposed any move to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from peaceful areas in Jammu and Kashmir, arguing that the current lull in violence could be deceptive. “There cannot be islands of peace,” senior army commanders were said to have argued at the Unified Command HQ meeting today. If Srinagar and Budgam are peaceful, it does not mean they can be separated from the larger situation in Kashmir, they said. The meeting, which discussed Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s suggestion that AFSPA should be withdrawn from areas where troops have not operated for many years, did not reach a conclusion. Participants agreed to continue discussions. Talking to reporters after the reopening of the civil secretariat and other offices after the shift of the durbar this morning, Omar had asked the army when it last worked in Srinagar or Budgam. The matter would come up for discussion at the Unified Command Headquarters meeting in the evening, Omar added - “We don’t intend to withdraw AFSPA in areas where the army is still needed to fight militants, but only where it has not worked in the last couple of years. Why do they want protection even in areas where they have not worked?” The state government did not offer a detailed comment after the meeting. But reacting to source-based reports on what happened at the meeting, the chief minister tweeted: “Who the hell is leaking the proceedings of the UHQ to the media??????” The army and BSF opposed withdrawal of AFSPA; CRPF said it had no reservations provided the government could ensure protection. The state police backed the CM, sources said.