A major initiative to bring back peace in Jammu and Kashmir could start this week after the Cabinet Committee on Security considers a home ministry proposal to give the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) a human face, as well as to stop enforcing the law altogether in some districts of the state.
Ahead of the crucial meeting, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who flew to Delhi, called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to discuss various options to restore peace.
HT was the first to report (Hectic moves on for J&K breakthrough, September 3) that such an initiative was in the offing.
The key change in the AFSPA proposed by Abdullah – who has made no secret of his opposition to the existing law – in his meeting with Singh was to remove any explicit reference to the power of a non-commissioned officer, such as a havildar, to “cause death” – that is, shoot to kill - if in his opinion it was necessary for maintenance of public order.
"Yes, I have requested the Prime Minister to take a decision on amending the AFSPA or at best withdrawing it from some areas where it was not required.,” Abdullah later said. “Some calculated risks have to be taken... let us see."
Sources said the act may be revoked in four districts: Srinagar, Ganderbal, Jammu and Samba. The move to amend the act is, however, opposed by the Defence Ministry.
During the 45-minute meeting, Abdullah also urged Singh to immediately initiate a political dialogue with the separatists.
In the current cycle of violence which began in Kashmir on June 11, 69 people have been killed, mostly protesters at the hands of security forces.
Along with AFSPA, the CCS is also likely to discuss various other proposals. These include special compensation for families of those killed in firing by security forces during the past three months, jobs and rehabilitation of surrendered militants and a scheme to push employment avenues for the educated unemployed.