Maintaining that there was ample scope for addressing concerns of the Army, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah today said he would continue his efforts for revocation of AFSPA in the state.
"I am on the right track and my efforts for gradual revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act will continue," he told a public rally after inaugurating a grid station in Anantnag.
Seeking approval from public, Omar said, "Raise your hands if you want AFSPA to go." The gathering raised their hands in his support. Omar said the Centre's view on the issue was that all the stake-holders, especially the Army, should be taken on board.
"We always wanted to take everyone along...A decision has been taken to send a team comprising DGP, Additional DGP and home secretary to Delhi for talks with the union home department, army headquarters and defence ministry for preparing a road-map," he said.
The chief minister said the Centre's Cabinet Committee on Security has mandated the state government to look into the AFSPA revocation issue and there is ample scope to address the concerns of the security forces while passing on the peace dividends to people of the state. "We are trying to address the concerns of the army without engaging in public debate," Omar said. He said those who claim that only this year was peaceful in Kashmir should look at the graph for the last seven to eight years.
"The militancy is only five per cent of what we had in 2002. The peace dividends should reach the people and the laws enacted due to militancy should go," he said. Responding to Opposition PDP's criticism that he has raised the issue to save his chair, Omar said he would have stayed silent if that would have been the case. "I would have stayed silent like the chief minister from 2002-2005 (Mufti Mohammad Sayeed). They (PDP) started talking about AFSPA revocation and self rule only after Ghulam Nabi Azad became the chief minister so that his work was hindered and his (popularity) graph did not go up," he said.
On the two committees formed at the peak of summer unrest last year to look into the AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act, Omar said the panels did not do as much as they could have done, however, those are "still active and looking into the matter".