A second terror attack in Jammu in less than 24 hours is expected to strengthen the case for the continuation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir.
A senior army officer told HT whenever a case is made out for diluting the Act by withdrawing it from certain areas, the argument is based on the so-called stability in the Jammu region.
“That argument falls flat in the wake of these attacks. The Samba attack is the fifth such strike since September 2013 when terrorists attacked a police station and an army base. Risks have only increased,” the officer said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The army location targeted on Saturday was attacked in September 2013 too, making it an even more audacious strike.
The common minimum programme of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) underlines the coalition will examine the need for de-notifying ‘disturbed areas,’ a step towards restricting the scope of the controversial law before making a case to the Centre to withdraw it from some parts of the state.
The issue had dominated the alliance talks between the two parties and even delayed the government formation in J&K. It continues to be a bone of contention for the ruling coalition. While J&K chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has maintained that he would continue to work for gradual removal of AFSPA, Union minister Jitendra Singh said the decision must be left to the judgment of security agencies.
The army’s stand on the AFSPA, however, remains the same — soldiers need special protection to discharge duties in areas that have been declared ‘disturbed.’
The army has repeatedly signalled its unwillingness to accept any changes in the AFSPA, arguing that it will upset the security architecture in the state.