AFSPA Revocation My Mission: Omar

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‘Won’t Allow Vested Interests To Disturb Peace’

Srinagar – Asserting that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was conducive for phased withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, Sunday said he would continue to pursue his mission for the purpose though there could have been more progress on it.

Talking to reporters after addressing the Police Martyrs’ Day function at Zewan on the city outskirts here, Omar admitted the army had reservations on AFSPA revocation even from some areas of the state.

“It is a no secret that army has very publicly expressed its reservation on the issue. As far as I am concerned, it is a mission worth pursuing and I am going to pursue the objective,” he said, adding he had made no bones about the fact that more progress should have been made ever since he had announced at a same venue that it would be withdrawn from certain areas within two to three days. 

Relating his efforts with various indicators suggesting the situation had improved a great deal and the time had come for the gradual revocation of the law, generally perceived as anti-people, Omar said he believed the prevailing conditions were propitious for the purpose.

“Militancy is at an all time low, casualties are at an all time low, you continue to have areas where the army has no requirement for operations and, therefore, this is as good time as any (for revoking AFSPA),” he said.

Earlier, speaking at the main function at which apart from the police personnel, families of police martyrs were present, the chief minister said the state police could take up the twin-challenge of fighting militancy and maintaining law and order. Each of these roles needs separate specialized training, he said.

“The state police personnel have to keep a gun in one hand and a stick in the other to deal with different situations. This is a peculiar phenomenon,” he said, adding that despite difficulties and challenges the state police had proven its mettle earning the status of one of the best forces in the country.

“There is no challenge that this force cannot take up. I wanted to put more responsibility on you (police) but may be we have not reached that stage yet,” he said, lauding the force  for the exemplary role it had played in restoring peace and fighting militancy.

“You have played an important role in the past in restoring peace and you will have to continue it. Restoration of peace and normalcy cannot be achieved without the police,” he said.

Taking a dig on separatists and militants, the chief minister said they were only interested in bloodshed and disturbing peace. “The aim of the recent militant attack or threats to launch agitation is only to throw normal life out of gear. They will make all efforts to push us back to dark days which we are coming out of. But we have decided not to allow them to succeed,” he said.

Without naming Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Omar said, “Some people are talking about issuing calendars because they love to see anarchy and arson in the valley. These vested interests are using both tactics to disturb the peace: be it gun or speech,” he said, adding they won’t be allowed to disturb peace.

He said the cooperation between police and people had resulted in improved situation in that more than 10 lakh visitors and over five  lakhAmarnathyatriesvisited the state this year generating wide-ranging economic activity and rejuvenating tourism.

On the proposals for police welfare pending with the Home Department, Omar said the three proposals: (a) enhancing uniform and kit maintenance allowance; (b) increasing ex-gratia relief; and (c) providing two sets of uniforms to traffic personnel, had been approved by the government. 

Speaking on the occasion, the director-general of police, Ashok Prasad, gave a resume of steps taken for the welfare of families of police martyrs. He said over Rs. 75.50 lakh had been provided to them as assistance last year besides ex-gratia relief of Rs. 1.50 crore to the next of kins of martyrs. Another Rs. 12 lakh have been provided in the shape of scholarship to 440 children of martyrs besides employment given to over 780. He said martyrs’ daughters were being provided Rs. 50,000 for getting married. 

The chief minister laid wreaths at the martyrs memorial and paid tributes to them when the role of honour was carried in a march past across the dice towards the martyrs memorial.

Several ministers and top administration and police functionaries were present on the occasion. 

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