Omar Flays Cong, PDP Over AFSPA Tussle

15 November 2014
The New Indian Express
Fayaz Wani

Srinagar: A day after senior Congress leader and former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram termed the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) an 'obnoxious law' that had no place in a modern and civilised country, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday accused coalition partner, the Congress, and Opposition PDP, of not supporting him in getting the controversial Act revoked from the state. 'The Congress could have backed the move, but they did not. No one from the party helped me on the issue the way former Home Minister P Chidambaram did,' Omar told reporters after addressing an election rally in Ganderbal in central Kashmir on Saturday. He said he got tremendous support from Chidambaram on the issue. 'But he couldn't convince some of his Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) colleagues, and I couldn't convince some of my colleagues here'. Omar said had there been more men like Chidambaram on the CCS, they would then have moved a long way forward in getting the AFSPA revoked. The CM has been pressing for withdrawal of the AFSPA from peaceful areas of the state. However, the Defence Ministry and the Army has been opposing the repeal of the law, saying it would affect counter-terrorism operations in the State. Omar also blamed the PDP for not supporting him on the issue. 'Instead of supporting the government on the issue, they demanded that the Army be taken on board and its point of view heard.' 'Had the PDP supported us in getting the AFSPA revoked, things would have been different today,' he said. Chidambaram, who held the Home Portfolio for a while in the UPA-II before returning to the Ministry of Finance, had on Friday termed the AFSPA as an obnoxious law that had no place in a modern, civilised country. 'It purports to incorporate the principle of immunity against prosecution without previous sanction. In reality, it allows the AFSPA to act with impunity,' he said. Reacting to Chidambaram's statement, senior BJP leader and Union MoS for External Affairs, Gen (Retd) V K Singh said the AFSPA does not give unlimited powers to men in uniform.