AFSPA Revocation Plea Received From JK Govt: Centre

11 March 2015
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali

Srinagar: Union Home Ministry has revealed it received a petition from J&K Government seeking phased withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the State. 'Representation has been received from J&K government for phased withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Jammu and Kashmir,' reads a written response from Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju. The minister made the disclosure in ongoing session of Lok Sabha in New Delhi in response to a question by Member Parliament and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti. However the response doesn't mention about the time when the ministry received the representation from JK government. New Delhi has however remained non-committal on revoking the Act from the State which gives impunity to the Armed forces. 'At present there is no proposal to modify or withdraw AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir and north eastern regions,' reads the response to clubbed question from Mehbooba and two other MPs from north eastern region. 'Decisions on matters affecting security are taken after evaluation of situation on ground by the government.' The union minister has said impact of AFSPA in all respects is reviewed periodically by the government of India after detailed consultations with the state governments and central agencies concerned. In its 'Agenda of Alliance' for governing the state for next six years, PDP-BJP coalition government has agreed to review security situation with a view to examine the need for de-notifying the disturbed areas under the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA). 'This as a consequence will enable the union government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas,' mentions the Agenda. This is probably for the first time that J&K government has formally approached New Delhi seeking abrogation of the AFSPA. In 2012 the Union Home Ministry revealed that it never received any recommendation or request from J&K government, during past nine years, for withdrawal-amendment of AFSPA. The disclosure was made by Home Ministry in response to an RTI application at a time when former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had raised pitch on AFSPA revocation. Omar had in 2011 told a police-function in Kashmir that the controversial law would be removed from parts of the state 'within days'. However, during his last press conference as Chief Minister, last year, Omar said he has regrets that AFSPA wasn't removed during his tenure. Different panels set up by New Delhi including Prime Minister's Working Groups on Kashmir and three-member team of interlocutors have in the past strongly favored revocation of the AFSPA from J&K. However, the Union Defense Ministry has been opposing any such move to dilute the act. AFSPA was imposed in Kashmir and Jammu respectively in 1990 and 2001 after eruption of militancy in Kashmir in 90's, vide order number SRO-SW4 dated 6-7-1990, declaring Kashmir and parts of Rajouri and Poonch district as disturbed. Another order (No 219-97-ISA) notifying Jammu region as 'disturbed' was issued by state Home department in August 2001, declaring Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Poonch, Rajouri and Doda as disturbed areas to facilitate the imposition of AFSPA there. As per the law the areas to be brought under the purview of AFSPA have to be declared as 'disturbed' first.