No Deadline For AFSPA Removal in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Nov 21: The Chief Minister of Indian administered Kashmir Omar Abdullah Monday said no deadline has been fixed for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the State.

“No timeline has been set for revocation of AFSPA from the State. I am not in the business of setting deadlines. More progress has to be made regarding the revocation of the Act. We have to work in tandem and everybody including Defense Ministry and army has to be taken into confidence,” Omar told the media during a function in South Kashmir today.

“They have some concerns which needed to be sorted out and hopefully it will be done sooner than later,” he said when asked if the Government of India (GoI) was against revocation of AFSPA.

Elaborating further, Omar said “The graph of militancy has been declining considerably. The militancy is only five per cent of what we had in 2002. The peace dividends should reach the people and the laws enacted due to militancy should go”.

Asked about the committees formed last year to look into AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act, he said, “Unfortunately the committees did not work as they were meant to work. They could have achieved more but they failed. However, those are still active and looking into the matter”.

He said a joint team of state government officials would soon visit Delhi to carry forward the discussions with Indian government. “A decision has been taken to send a team comprising DGP, Additional DGP and Home Secretary to Delhi for talks with the Union Home Department, army headquarters and Defence Ministry for preparing a road-map,” he said.

He said peace is imperative for development and its benefits should percolate to the people considerably.

“My endeavours in this regard are as per public aspiration. My viewpoint for gradual revocation of AFSPA from certain parts of the State represents the public hope. People want to relish the fruit of peace and tranquility along with development process,” Omar said.

Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.