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Antony backs Army on AFSPA

Defence minister AK Antony has told Army chief General VK Singh that he is on the same page as the Indian Army on its opposition to the withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from selected areas of J&K. Who stands where

delhi Updated: Oct 28, 2011 01:49 IST
Shishir Gupta

Defence minister AK Antony has told Army chief General VK Singh that he is on the same page as the Indian Army on its opposition to the withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from selected areas of J&K and will not allow any adverse decision that will affect the morale of troops in the strife-torn state.


Last week, Antony and General VK Singh had a detailed discussion on CM Omar Abdullah's AFSPA withdrawal proposal with the latter impressing on the minister that it would be impossible for the army to operate in J&K without the cover of the Act as the force would get bogged down in legal battles.

General Singh has told the defence minister that limited withdrawal of AFSPA is only to score political points against opposition parties as no such demand has been raised by people. He also made it clear that it would be politically impossible to impose the Act again in case it was withdrawn.

However, the view of defence ministry and the army is not shared by the home ministry, which wants the AFSPA to be lifted from certain areas as it will be a confidence-building measure for people of the state and will send a strong signal to the international community.

The army top brass is extremely cut up with Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, uncle of Omar and senior National Conference leader, for broadly hinting that the military was behind the grenade attacks in Srinagar on October 25.

Kamal, Hazratbal MLA and NC president Farooq Abdullah's brother, was forced to eat his words after northern army commander Lt General KT Parnaik called up Abdullah and told him that such remarks were unacceptable. Omar told Gen Parnaik that he had no clue about Kamal's statement as he was in Delhi but later forced his uncle to issue a retraction.

Although Omar is trying to mend fences with the army by praising its role in curbing militancy in J&K, the top brass is not impressed.