Chief Minister of Kashmir Pursues Revocation of AFSPA in Winter Months

Srinagar, Nov 10: In what could add further to the confrontation between the civilian government and army in Indian administered Kashmir, the chief minister of the region Omar Abdullah on Thursday said he would like the phased withdrawal of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), giving special immunity to Indian soldiers for their acts in Kashmir, during the winter months.

“Winter is normally a phase when militancy is at its low in Kashmir. This gives us a window to consolidate and re-orient deployment of soldiers to see how phased-withdrawal was working. I would like to see revocation of AFSPA in the winter months,” Omar told the media during a function in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir.

Asked whether the Kashmir government had any authority to scrap AFSPA, he said, “I have the authority to do so. Every elected State government has the authority and in Kashmir, the authority lies with the Governor, who takes decision on the cabinet’s recommendations”.

Omar said ‘no’ is not the option as far revocation of AFSPA is concerned. “No is not the option. There are other options.”

He said a detailed discussion on AFSPA with army commanders during the recently Unified Head Quarters meeting. “Army shared their point of view. They wanted to have further discussions with me on this issue. I have told them that two committees already set up to finalise the recommendations on the issue would submit their report soon. I have told them that I would wait for the recommendations of the two committees before entering into any more discussion with the army.”

Omar said in the meantime the government will continue to discuss the possibility of phased withdrawal of AFSPA from various areas keeping in view the concerns expressed by various quarters.

Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.