Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday expressed hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would take a "serious look" at the issue of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as the time was "opportune" to make progress on it.
"Regardless of what happens over the next few months (due to elections), I do hope that the Modi government will take a serious look at this issue of AFSPA. And I believe, I believed even a few years ago but more so now, given the fact that there has been a steady improvement over the years, that this is an opportune time to make progress on that issue," Omar told reporters here.
For the past several years, Omar has been pitching for phased revocation of the controversial law that gives sweeping powers to the armed forces involved in anti-militancy operations in the state.
The chief minister said though the situation in the state had shown a considerable improvement over the years, new "reasons were found" to not proceed on the issue of revocation of AFSPA.
"The situation showed a considerable improvement...Year on year, there has been reduction in militancy in double digits, percentage wise. If you take the base as 2008-2009, the decline in the militancy has been of the order of 60 to 70%."
"But unfortunately new reasons were found to not proceed on the AFSPA issue, particularly the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan. We were being led to believe that 2014 was going to be a very violent year for Jammu and Kashmir because the withdrawal of the international forces from Afghanistan would lead to a corresponding increase in militancy in J&K. (But) that didn't happen," he said.
Speaking on the surfacing of ISIS flags in the Valley, Abdullah said the police have detained a few youth and cases have been registered but till now no links among the youth, militancy and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) have come up. Investigation is on as to why the ISIS flags are surfacing in the Valley, he asked.
Hailing the Jammu and Kashmir police and security forces in gradual restoration of normalcy in the state and combating militancy, Abdullah said that the prevailing situation of normalcy owes a lot to police and security forces.
"We had given you strict directions to uphold human rights and avoid collateral damage while fighting militancy and you abide by the directions to the highest degree of responsibility", the chief minister told the policemen and assured the families of the martyrs of all possible help from the state government. "You will not find us falling back in this stupendous task", he asserted.
The chief minister appreciated the role of security forces and youth in saving lives during the floods.
He also mentioned the role of Jammu and Kashmir Police, NDRF, CRPF, BSF, Army and Air Force, in saving the lives of thousands of people in the rescue operations during the floods. "While my gratitude goes to the men in uniform, my special salute is to un-uniformed youth who voluntarily and courageously saved thousands of lives in floods", he said and mentioned the outstanding work done by the youth of Srinagar and other districts in saving the lives of flood stuck people.The chief minister referred to the endeavours of the government to reach out to the people and said that it was the timely action of the government that no outbreak of any waterborne or other flood-related diseases took place in the state.