press trust of india
Srinagar, 8 July
Seeking a way out of the impasse over the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today suggested modification of the law that gives immunity to the armed forces operating in disturbed areas.
If revocation was not acceptable to the Centre, modification should be looked at, he said about the AFSPA that was made applicable to the state 23 years ago and is a major political issue in the run up to the Assembly polls due by November 2014.
Omar, who has not succeeded in persuading the Centre to revoke the AFSPA even from parts of the state that are relatively peaceful, said incidents in the Valley had lent credence to arguments for and against its revocation.
“Therefore, it is important to find some common meeting ground between the two completely opposite points of view,” Mr Abdullah said.
Asked whether he was suggesting a middle way for the AFSPA, the chief minister said: “Well there have been those who have suggested modification to the AFSPA, there have been those who have suggested softening of the AFSPA.”
“If you are unwilling to accept revocation, then look at modifications. That is a possibility,” he said.
Mr Abdullah also cited the example of the state government which had made changes in the Public Safety Act under which people can be detained without trial for up to two years.
“This is also an option I will continue to engage with the Government of India and I will continue taking the line I have taken in the past. So, let’s see what happens,” the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said.