Playing down the death threat issued to village heads by Hizbul chief Syed Sallahuddin, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday ruled out providing security to each and every sarpanch in the state.
"We never said we would provide security to each and every panch and sarpanch. We had said whenever there was a threat assessment and we feel that there was need to do more, we will do that," said Omar at a press conference on the opening of darbar move offices in Jammu.
The chief minister was replying to a volley of questions about the threat given by the Hizbul chief to panchayat members and whether the government intended to provide security to panches and sarpanches in the state.
"...each of us know that today's situation in Jammu and Kashmir (is very conducive and peaceful) there is no militancy in most areas of Jammu. There is no threat to panches and sarpanches," Omar said.
"In Jammu region, there are three districts where there will be presence of around 30 to 40 militants, not more than that. In this situation, there is no question of providing security to each and every panch and sarpanch," he said.
"As far as Kashmir is concerned, there are some areas which are militancy affected - where central and state intelligence agencies will do on-ground threat perception assessments-- after that if we have to take further steps-- we will take them but it will not be made public", the chief minister said.
Omar found it strange that the top terrorist Salahuddin was issuing death threats to panches and sarpanches as he himself had earlier announced that his terrorist outfit won't harm them.
"His (Salahuddin) own tune is changing. He was the one who had earlier said there would be no threat made to panches and sarpanches and that these elections (panchayat) can go ahead without any sort of threat from militants. I do not know why he has now jumped suddenly on this bandwagon of issuing the threat," he said.
No deadline for removal of AFSPA
When asked about the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state, the chief minister said he wanted a phased withdrawal of a legislation that gave sweeping powers to armed forces, but would not fix a deadline.
"There is no deadline for the removal of AFSPA as of now, but it will go and the work is in progress on this count," Abdullah told reporters. Last October, at a police function, Omar had publicly said the AFSPA would go from some areas before the darbar opened up in Jammu.
No need for 73rd Amendment
Replying to his stand on the implementation of the 73rd amendment in the state and pressure from his coalition partner Congress to take necessary measures in this direction with postponement of block development council (BDC) elections, Omar said: "The coalition government has been very clear that the 73rd amendment will not be brought to J&K.
"What we have been clear about is that we have a unique distinction of having our own constitution within the state. Why should we incorporate central constitutional changes when we can make our own changes here, and amend our own Panchayat Raj Act?" he said.
"But at no point has there been any pressure to bring in the 73rd amendment nor has there been any discord," he said.
Can't provide susbsidised LPG
The chief minister said the government couldn't provide additional subsidy on LPG as it's already providing highly subsidised power. He, however, said the government was asking the oil ministry to extend the deadline for filing Know-Your-Customer form. He said the government was pushing for concession to J&K.