Cracks in Kashmir Coalition Government Over AFSPA

Srinagar, Oct 27: The announcement by the Chief Minister of Indian administered Kashmir (IaK) Omar Abdullah concerning the roll back of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that allows soldiers to act with impunity in the region have caused cracks in the coalition government in Kashmir with the ruling partner (Congress) asserting that the party was not consulted on the issue and the Chief Minister is on shaky ground.

“The Chief Minister should have consulted the coalition partner before announcing the rollback of AFSPA. Today he is on shaky ground because he has not done the consultation exercise fully. I am not so sure that, before the offices move to the winter capital before the start of new month that he can remove AFSPA,” Congress’s Kashmir head Saif-ud-Din Soz told the media here today. He said the process of consultation has to be democratic. “AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) have to go. But there are so many actors who are as much important as Omar Abdullah such as the Indian Home Ministry and the Indian Defense Ministry,” he said.

There have been constant reports that the Indian Defence ministry has been opposing the revocation of AFSPA giving impunity to soldiers for their acts in Kashmir.

“The main players such as the Indian Home Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Congress Party and the Army should be taken onboard on the issue. It does not seem to be the case at the moment. He (Omar) won’t lose anything if he takes everybody onboard. There is no game in the world where you can score a goal all by yourself…you have to have a team,” Soz said.

Later in the day, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah while defending himself said he is well aware of his responsibilities of consultations and carrying the alliance partner with him.

“The issue has been discussed at various levels. Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram has been kept in the loop on the matter. At every step of the way, I have kept the Home Minister of India briefed not only about discussions here but also about future intentions,” Omar told the media during a function in the outskirts of Srinagar.

Omar said formal discussions on the issue have taken place in the Unified Command meetings. [The Unified Command comprises top police, army, paramilitary and civil officials and chief minister is chairman of the command, which takes all important decisions about the security matters].

When asked whether AFSPA would be revoked, Omar said, “I am not going to answer this question. My stand is clear through my statement and speeches.”

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