Hitting out at those clamouring for dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Army Chief Gen V K Singh said that the Act is being used as a "beating stick" by the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir.
"We are unnecessarily playing into the hands of separatists for whom this is a beating stick," Gen Singh said in a candid interview during which he spoke on Kashmir, allegations of human rights violations and security scenario in the region.
The AFSPA was being "unnecessarily demonised" although it had "nothing to do with the present unrest (in Kashmir)", he said while firmly sticking to his opposition to any withdrawal or even dilution of the Act which gives the Army vast powers to deal with insurgents.
Any move to make AFSPA non-applicable to selected areas of the state by denotifying them from the list of 'Disturbed Areas' also does not find favour with the General.
"It has got no meaning," he emphasised as a "person who has been involved in Kashmir for such a long time".
Gen Singh was clear that non-applicability of the AFSPA to specific areas would not do. "I don't find any logic in all this," he asserted.
His strong opposition to any dilution of the AFSPA comes in the backdrop of demands by the Jammu and Kashmir government, separatists and others for dilution or partial lifting of the Act.
Recently, there were reports that certain districts may be removed from the list of 'Disturbed Areas' which would mean that the Act would not apply there.
It was clear from the General's remarks that he was critical of the state administration's handling of the unrest in Kashmir in recent months during which 111 people have died.
"The state administration could have been better in tackling the way things started," he said.