Solo Police Too Needs AFSPA-Like Cover: DGP

“Special Powers Act Immunity A Misconception”

SRINAGAR: With the state and central governments repeatedly talking of handing over internal security duties in Jammu and Kashmir to the local police, the director general of the police (DGP), Ashok Prasad on Tuesday said that his force too would need “legal cover” if mandated for counter-insurgency operations independently.

The DGP’s remarks come amid strong demands by the chief minister Omar Abdullah for partially revoking the AFSPA which confers special powers on the army deployed in the turmoil-hit state - provisions the generals insist serve as a “legal cover” for personnel in fighting militancy.     

“A misconception has been floated that armed forces are immune to any kind of disciplinary action under the AFSPA,” the DGP said in an interview from New Delhi where he is attending an interstate conference on police reforms.

“The army catches a man and hands him over to the police. The AFSPA doesn’t provide them any investigation powers,” said the DGP.

“The union government has a mechanism to screen the allegations against armed forces’ personnel working in areas where AFSPA is in operation before they are put to trial,” he said.

“This would be desirable even for the state police to have such screening if it is to handle counter-insurgency on its own,” he said.

“You can have any officer being accused of violating the norms. Does that mean every police officer shall roam around in court corridors to prove his innocence, or should he fight militancy? Therefore there has to be some kind of a mechanism to save officers and personnel against being tried on the basis of allegations which don’t have any merit,” the DGP said.

“You can’t let anybody level allegations every now and then when you have such a tough situation to handle,” he said.

The DGP claimed that there were people with vested interests who were creating confusion over the issue.

“Under Section (3) of AFSPA, Central forces get the special powers and under section (3) of Disturbed Areas Act only J&K Armed Police, not the JKP enjoys certain powers,” said Prasad.

He however made it clear that the political dispensation was the appropriate authority to take a final call on the implementation or revocation of the controversial law.

“We have already two committees working on it, and once they submit the report to the government, the position would get clear,” he said.

ON CURBS AGAINST SEPARATISTS

Meanwhile, hinting at limiting the movement of some separatist leaders who he said, could create law and order problems, the DGP said that majority of the separatist leaders had been released but there were intelligence inputs suggesting that free movement of some  could create law and order problems ‘which has forced authorities to put a check on their movement’.

“As long as they are not involved in instigating people, we don’t have any problem with their movement, but if they try to instigate people, surly we will revisit our decision,” he said.

“If Syed Ali Shah Geelani would like to go to the Hyderpora mosque or for shopping and medical checkup, he won’t be stopped unless there is any apprehension of law and order problems,” he said.

Prasad hinted at reduction of security cover in Baramulla where people have been protesting for over a week.

“Let the stone pelting stop, reduction of security cover would be considered,” he said.  

“There are 10 to 15 boys who throw stones for vested interests and they have held the entire area to ransom,” he said

“The situation in Palhalan, Khanpora and other areas has been brought under control and efforts are on to restore normalcy in the old Baramulla also,” he said. 

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