Notwithstanding demands for its scrapping, the army favours continuation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir citing "special circumstances" in the state.
"For special circumstances you require special laws. There are special circumstances in Jammu and Kashmir and that require special laws to deal with it," Army's Northern Command Chief Lieutenant General BS Jaswal told PTI.
Appreciating the work of the army personnel, he said, "My troops are the finest in the world and whatever they do, they do it with good intentions. And if that good intention is questioned time and again, that will make their function difficult. It is very very important that they have AFSPA."
"Some people call these provisions of AFSPA as draconian. I would respond by saying that if you want to feel the heat, be in it. When you function in these special circumstances, you will realise that these laws become imperative for carrying out smooth operation," the official said.
Jaswal, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Army's Udhampur-based Northern Command, said "when you act in special circumstances, certain amount of immunity is imperative. That is when AFSPA comes into play. It empowers the Army to act firmly in certain circumstances that exist in this case."
He said, "the government has cleared the AFSPA and any provision extended by the government would remain at the realm of the government to pursue it further or to remove it.
"However, purely from the Army's point of view, as also stated by the Chief of Army Staff, it is very important for continuation of this provision keeping in view the special situation in the state."
When asked to elaborate on the special circumstances in the state, the GOC-in-C said, "It is self explanatory. The situation which is there. If Army has to get in to carry out searches, etc, you have been seeing the ways they are taking on, in fact the army for that matter. In case we don't have this tool for immunity, then who will act."
To a question on Machil encounter in Jammu and Kashmir in which one Colonel and two Majors have been chargesheeted by the police for allegedly killing three youths in a fake encounter, he said, "So far there have been 1,535 odd cases registered against army personnel and only 35 cases have proved right. So just that a case has been flagged doesn't mean that something has happened."
When asked whether the army was conducting a parallel enquiry into the case, he answered "Yes, very much."
"There is an enquiry on and I have put one of my best Brigade Commander to enquire into it. And with great difficulty we have been able to get witnesses etc. It has almost been finalising. Till the time the enquiry doesn't come to its logical conclusion to suggest even that something has happened wouldn't be right," Jaswal said.
"I would like to assure you that if anyone is found guilty, exemplary punishment will be meted out to him. I am a very transparent person myself and I will ensure that total transparency is there. If there is anyone guilty, if there be, I will not leave anyone," he added.