AFSPA Rollback Will Make Army Handicap in Kashmir

Srinagar, Nov 3: Opposing the withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts of Kashmir, a senior Indian army officer Thursday said rollback of the law that gives impunity to soldiers for thier acts in the region, would render army handicap and affect their capability of dealing with militancy.

“To rollback AFSPA from certain pockets of Kashmir at this point of time may be a genuine point owing to peaceful year. But peace is very fragile. After all we have seen one of the most peaceful summers in 2011 and that has happened with AFSPA only,” Army’s Northern Command chief Lt Gen K T Parnaik told media at Teetwal in North Kashmir today. He said incase the law is revoked from certain pockets, the militants will exploit the situation and army doesn’t want it to happen. “It is a question of the confidence and trust that you repose in Army.

If you are removing the Act from certain areas then it will become difficult for the Army to operate in the manner we operate now,” he said. “Around the world, whenever the army carries any operation they are empowered and enabled and “we are not different”. “The difference here is that we are in a situation for last more than 20 years for which army requires provisions to deal with it,” he said.

Claiming that the Indian army has the best human rights record in the world, he said, some HR violations may have taken place but the culprits were punished under the law. Terming AFSPA as an “enabling” Act, Parnaik said it was not a draconian law. “AFSPA helps us to counter infiltrations and carry out anti militancy operations in the State effectively.

We have to see whether it (AFSPA) is a matter of security or matter of political dispensation. We need to take into consideration the entire proxy war being externally abated by Pakistan”. He said the militant infrastructure still exists across the LoC. “Pakistan still has the caliber to instigate militancy in the region. Unless and until we are able to neutralize the infrastructure and remove the interference of Pakistan, it may not be the right time to think even of partial revocation of the Act,” he said.

Maintaining that army has no confrontation with anybody, he said, “We have taken our stand in view of the prevailing situation in Kashmir. Army has already discussed the issue with high power committees formed by the Government of India (GoI) to review the situation in Kashmir in recent past”.

Asked if Chief Minster had taken army on board before announcing that AFSPA would be removed from certain areas soon, Parnaik said, “CM had sought recommendations from us early this year and following that two committees were formed headed by GoC 15 corps and GoC 16 corps”.

“After we submitted our recommendations, the Chief Minster consulted some other agencies. But we sensitized them and told them how the decision will affect the capacity of army in dealing with militancy,” he said. The army commander expressed optimism that the issue will be resolved after deliberations and discussions with the concerned people. There should be more discussions before taking a final call,” he said.

Debate over the partial revocation of AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act, introduced in 1990 to give the Army and paramilitary forces powers to detain suspects and use deadly force, began last month when Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced that Acts will be revoked from parts of the region “within few days”.