iconimg Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ashiq Hussain, Hindustan Times
Srinagar, October 14, 2012
The relative peace amid steep decrease in violence in the past two years in Kashmir is no ground for the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, said union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Sunday.
The home minister, while talking to media after addressing a gathering at Congress headquarters in Srinagar, said that the current peaceful atmosphere in Kashmir is 'not robust'.

"Time is not ripe for the revocation of AFSPA. For the 'chhota-mota' peace right now, the act can't be revoked," said Shinde, who wound up his three-day visit to the state.

The statement is quite contrasting to the stance held by Shinde's predecessor in the home ministry and finance minister P Chidambaram. The latter had sought some amendments in AFSPA to give it a more humane face, which has been consistently opposed by the defence ministry of India.

On Saturday, the home minister reviewed the state's security issues and the prevailing law and order situation at a unified headquarters' meeting, which was also attended by chief minister Omar Abdullah and representatives from the army, CRPF and police.

Abdullah has been consistent in his demand for revocation of AFSPA from some districts of the state, but has, of late, toned down his assertions after a rebuff in New Delhi.

Without giving any timeline, Shinde, however, said that the law would be reviewed. "The law will go slowly and gradually. But let me tell you that soon a stage will come when we will be going for a reduction in the presence of paramilitary forces," he said.

Giving credit of peace to people, the home minister said that he has given directions for a need-based recruitment of paramilitary forces.

Earlier Shinde visited the shrine of revered Sufi saint, Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali at historic Charar-i-Sharief town in central Kashmir.

A government official said that Shinde paid obeisance and prayed for peace at the mausoleum of the saint.

The minister was honoured with a white turban by the caretakers of the shrine, which was gutted in May 1995 after a standoff between security forces and militants continued for two months.

While the army had accused militants of triggering blasts, the militants had claimed that the army damaged the dargah in an attack to flush them out.