The Union home ministry has not received any new proposal for a phased removal of the controversial Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (Afspa) from Jammu and Kashmir, sources said.
The Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party had sounded out to the Bharatiya Janata Party that it wants the Centre to agree to lift the controversial Afspa from at least two districts of the state and deliver its commitment to vacate buildings occupied by security forces before she takes oath as the chief minister.
The state was placed under governor’s rule earlier this month after the PDP put off Mehbooba’s swearing-in after her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death to nudge its alliance partner to give her party a better deal.
The Afspa was enacted in disturbed areas of the state with effect from July 1990 and granted special powers to the armed forces to arrest, conduct searches and seizures. The act also provides immunity from prosecution to members of the armed forces.
The act is operational in the districts of Anantnag, Baramulla, Badgam, Kupwara, Pulwama and Srinagar since July 1990 and in of Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Poonch, Rajouri and Doda districts from August 2001.
“As of now no proposal is pending with the home ministry on a total or partial removal of Afspa from Jammu and Kashmir. If the state government sends any proposal in this regard, it will be examined,” a home ministry official requesting anonymity said.
The central government told Lok Sabha last year that it had received a representation from the J-K government for a phased withdrawal of the Afspa from the state. “The representation was received when Omar Abdullah was chief minister of the state. After that no new proposal came to the centre,” the official said.
Sources said that the Indian Army was not in favour of even a partial withdrawal of Afspa from the state. Therefore, the no decision was taken in this regard.
Security officials, however, say a partial or phased withdrawal of Afspa is implementable at least in certain urban pockets where the situation has improved on the ground.
“It is not something we cannot live without,” a senior security official, who did not wish to be named, said.