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Spl powers act splits Congress

delhi Updated: Sep 11, 2010 01:35 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

Sharp differences prevailed in the Congress brass on Friday over the demands for amending the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) or withdrawing it from some parts of J&K.

But, the Congress Core Group was unanimous in suggesting that the government should come out with a set of political initiative that could include talks with all shades of opinion besides releasing some prisoners on humanitarian grounds to assuage public sentiment.

On withdrawal of the Act, some members were of the opinion that the move will not put an end to the cycle of violence or stop the people from throwing stones at the security forces.

Stressing the need for adopting a cautious approach, these members said the government should not take any step that would "antagonise or isolate" the army.

The home ministry had put up a comprehensive set of proposals for political approval, which includes incentives to encourage surrender of militants, besides releasing of political prisoners and watering down AFSPA.

J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been pressing for amendments to the Act or its partial withdrawal from some parts, including Srinagar.

But, the core group meeting, chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi and also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was told that the army is not active in these areas and withdrawal of the Act would not "contribute in anyway" in restoring peace.

Ahead of the meeting, the PM also held talks with army chief General V.K. Singh on the issue. It is learnt that the army chief expressed his reservations at any move to withdraw AFSPA.

But the party is not in a hurry on take any hasty decisions and has left it to the government to decide on the issue. The Cabinet Committee on Security will meet on Monday.