Nearly two months after saying the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) would go from parts of Jammu and Kashmir "within days", chief minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday said "no deadline" had been fixed for revoking the act.
Abdullah told HT he would have liked the revocation to "happen that way" (within days), but matters got delayed because of the strong reactions the move evoked - a reference to the opposition of the army and political parties including ally Congress.
He admitted the army's resistance was the prime reason for the delay. The AFSPA empowers security forces to shoot at sight or arrest people without a warrant in areas declared disturbed. The law shields security forces from prosecution (unless the union government gives sanction).
On October 21, Abdullah had said the "black laws (AFSPA) would go from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir within days". The army opposed the move saying such a revocation would hamper its anti-insurgency operations and political parties accused the National Conference leader of acting unilaterally.
Abdullah said the issue was being discussed and hoped a way out would be found soon. "There is no deadline. This is an ongoing process. It is clearly proving more difficult than what I would have liked. Unfortunately, positions taken are rather extreme, but we are talking… it is my firm belief that as long as the democratic system in the country remains, the civilian writ would run."
The AFSPA was invoked in Kashmir Valley and in a few areas of Jammu division in 1990 after militancy erupted in the state. Excluding Leh and Kargil districts, it was later extended to the rest of the state.