Throwing his weight behind chief minister Omar Abdullah on the issue of revocation and amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Union finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the work is in progress and it can be done.
Chidambaram, who worked closely with Abdullah during his term as Union home minister, said he regrets that “initiatives (taken by him) on Kashmir were taken forward”.
He was speaking at the 75th anniversary of J&K Bank in Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC).
“We tried to have some consensus to bring amendments to the AFSPA but failed because we could not convince some of our colleagues. The work is on. It can be done,” said Chidambaram.
Claiming that he brought “some passion” in addressing issues in Kashmir but regretted “no progress were made on the recommendation of the three-member group of interlocutors and the suggestions of the all-party delegation (which visited Kashmir during the 2010 agitation”.
He said as the Union home minister he brought down the number of men in uniform and their foot prints. “There is more scope..Besides More initiatives need to be taken,” he added.
In 2011, Abdullah made an announcement to revoke the AFSPA during Chidambaram's tenure as home minister but subsequently it was shelved after the army raised its objections.
The Union finance minister said, “People of Kashmir has realized the futility of the 2010 (agitation) and it was obvious from the successful Amarnath Yatra.”
The Union minister said there are forces and players beyond control and we need to work with them. “It is possible that we work with them," he said.
Chidambaram, who praised the bank’s performance, advised it to expand its footprints across the country and make an attempt to open branches outside the country too.