Omar meets Sonia14 November 2011
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tonight met AICC (I) president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence here and discussed the overall security scenario in the State including partial withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) with her. The one-to-one meeting between Mr Abdullah and Mrs Gandhi lasted half an hour. Prior to his meeting with Mrs Gandhi, Omar had met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during last two days in the Union capital. Authoritative sources told the Excelsior that Mr Abdullah apprised Mrs Gandhi about peaceful summer this year in Kashmir and heavy rush of tourists leading to restoration of peace in most parts of the Valley. He stressed that people were required to be given some dividends for permanent peace in the form of partial withdrawal of AFSPA Act from peaceful areas of the State. He reiterated that he was not asking for withdrawal of the Act from militancy-infested areas but only from those parts, which were peaceful and where Army has not operated for past quite sometime. Mrs Gandhi gave a patient hearing to Mr Abdullah. Emerging out of the meeting, Omar told reporters that he discussed overall situation of Jammu and Kashmir with Mrs Gandhi in which withdrawal of AFSPA also figured. Meanwhile, grappling with the contentious issue of partial withdrawal of AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir, Congress top brass including Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi today held intense consultations here. The meeting of the Congress Core Group came close on the heels of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah meeting the Prime Minister and Home Minister P Chidambaram this morning. Omar had met Defence Minister A K Antony yesterday. There was no official word on what transpired at the 90-minute meeting of the Core Group in which Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was also present. Earlier during his visit to Jammu, Mr Azad had said that a decision on AFSPA can be taken by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Home Minister P Chidambaram. He had asserted that there should be no politics on the issue.