Centre for more talks, AFSPA on backburner
After his October 21 announcement triggered hot debates in the state as well as the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah's idea of revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from "certain areas" seems to have been consigned to cold storage. Arun Joshi reports.india Updated: Nov 01, 2011 01:23 IST
After his October 21 announcement triggered hot debates in the state as well as the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah's idea of revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from "certain areas" seems to have been consigned to cold storage.
Sources say, the Centre has advised Abdullah to hold more consultations and bring all stakeholders on board before making any announcement on the issue.
Union home minister P Chidambaram on Monday too favoured "more consultations", while the state Congress, the coalition partner in Abdullah's National Conference-led state government, raised the pitch over the unilateral announcement.
According to sources in the government, revenue minister Raman Bhalla recently questioned Abdullah over his going public on the sensitive issue without even taking his own cabinet into confidence.
Abdullah is believed to have now promised his cabinet colleagues from the Congress that he would hold further discussions with them before taking a formal decision on the issue.
"We are an important constituent of the government and thorough discussions should have been held with us and the army," said Bhalla at a cabinet meeting on October 28.
State Congress chief Saifuddin Soz had first raised the issue of non-consultation by the chief minister on such an important issue. Sources said the risks of a "unilateral announcement" were grave, as militancy is still thriving in J&K.
The Congress is apparently worried over Abdullah's recent statements, many of which are perceived to be against national interest.
He has raised questions over the nature of the state's accession, tweeted in support of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and now AFSPA - all causing embarrassment for the Congress at the national level.
"As of now, the AFSPA cannot be revoked until there is an all-time improvement in the situation on the ground," a highly placed source in the Congress told HT.