Forces Oppose AFSPA Withdrawal Or Dilution

Srinagar – Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah’s “Revoke AFSPA Mission” seems to be heading nowhere if the sound bites emanating from the union home ministry were to be believed. The security agencies are understood to have strongly opposed the revocation or even any dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the state.

According to reports the issue had been deliberated upon at length at the Unified Command meeting chaired by the union home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, during his recent 3-day visit to Kashmir early this month. Both at Srinagar and in New Delhi, Shinde had minced no words to set the chief minister’s “wishful thinking” on the issue at rest by saying the time was not ripe for revocation of the law. 

Reports said that the security agencies had categorically stated in their assessment report given to the home minister that there was need to remain vigilant all the times in view of the internal situation in Pakistan and her intentions to push in militants here.  

“Pakistan at present is lying low on the issue of terrorism because of its own internal and external problems. However, there is still no let up or dilution in Pakistan’s intentions to push terrorists and sponsor terrorism in India. So at all times we need to remain vigilant,” the report said.

Vehemently opposing any changes in the present status of AFSPA in the state, the security agencies have argued that 45-odd training camps were still active in Pakistan. Moreover, 2,000 to 3,000 Kashmiri youth were still “unaccounted for” in the Valley and they could be receiving arms training in the Pakistani camps, the report said. 

Substantiating their case against AFSPA revocation or dilution, the security agencies are understood to have referred to the killing of panchayat members followed by the spate of resignations by the elected village representatives in the backdrop of heightened threat perception.

Seizure of large quantities of arms and ammunition in some parts of the valley and, more significantly, some weapons having Chinese markings with the possibility of their finding way to militants has also disturbed the security bosses.

Quoting highly-placed official sources, reports said the centre too was in no hurry to even partially lift the AFSPA from some parts of the Valley. Though admitting there was considerable improvement in the security situation in Kashmir, they said the government was not willing to take any chances and lower its guard.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the union home minister said Pakistan continued to help militants to infiltrate into India. “There are specific intelligence inputs that Pakistan is helping militants sneak into the country but the government is alert,” he said, categorically ruling out any possibility of withdrawing or even reducing the security forces from Kashmir till the situation was absolutely peaceful.

“When I was in Jammu and Kashmir, locals asked me to remove the army from the Valley but I told them that we can’t do it till the situation is peaceful. We will remove the army when the situation is peaceful,” he said, adding his ministry had asked the security agencies to remain extra-vigilant during the festive season. (Observer Monitoring Desk With inputs from Agencies)

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