The army once again made it clear on Thursday that removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) “will make it difficult for security forces to operate ” and expressed fear that “the Act’s absence may allow inimical elements to exploit the situation” Kashmir.
“The fact is that partial revocation (of the AFSPA) from the areas may be seen as a genuine thing because there seems to be peace here. But peace is very fragile,” said General Officer Commanding in Chief for Northern Command Lt Gen K T Parnaik on the sidelines of a function held at Teetwal, Kupwara, 200 kms from Srinagar.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on October 21 announced lifting of AFSPA on experimental basis from areas where peace has returned in the state. However, Abdullah, in an interview to a New Delhi-based news channel on Wednesday night, clarified that “it was not a decision but intent which was announced”.
“The Act is not something that cannot be reimposed in an area. The way AFSPA is being rolled back can be again introduced if the experiment fails,” said Omar.
The army on Thursday, however, argued for not even lifting the Act on experiment basis. “After all we have seen one of the most peaceful summers in 2011 and that has happened with AFSPA only,” said Parnaik, who was accompanied by GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen S A Hasnain.
“If AFSPA is revoked from certain areas, terrorists and inimical elements will exploit the situation. We don't want that to happen,” he said.
Highlighting the contribution of the army in restoring peace in Kashmir, Parnaik said, “We have a situation that has now carried on for more than 20 years. The army requires the (AFSPA) provisions to enable it to act. Without the provisions the Army will be handicapped," said Parnaik.
The AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act were introduced in 1990 in Kashmir when an armed rebellion broke out. The Act allows the security forces to detain suspects without warrants and use deadly force during an operation.
Taking sharp note to expression of mainstream politicians who describe the Act as draconian, Parnaik said, “It’s an enabling Act and not a draconian law.”
He expressed fear that removal of the AFSPA from certain areas “will allow terrorists and inimical elements to exploit the situation”. “We don't want that to happen,” he said.