Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah announced his decision to revoke the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from four of the state’s 22 districts against the advice of two committees he had formed on the issue.
Abdullah formed the committees — comprising senior army and state officials — in January to examine the feasibility of repealing the AFSPA and the Disturbed Areas Act.
Both committees said in their reports submitted to the state government in February that the ground situation was not ripe for repealing the acts, army sources told HT.
The AFSPA, in force in J&K for more than a decade, empowers security forces to shoot at sight or arrest people without a warrant in areas declared “disturbed”. The possibility of widespread misuse of powers under this law had been a cause for concern among the people and the chief minister had been working on revoking it.
Abdullah announced his decision to withdraw the AFSPA from some parts of the state after discussions with union home minister P Chidambaram earlier this month.
“The announcement from the chief minister came as a surprise,” said a senior J&K official.
“Despite the recommendations of the two committees, Abdullah made the announcement on his own. There was no discussion between the state government and army on repealing these laws,” he added.
The defence ministry and ally Congress had opposed Abdullah’s move, saying it would help revive militancy.
Abdullah might have “compelling reasons”, union law minister Salman Khurshid said in Delhi on Tuesday. “But the home and defence ministers should concur on the issue and the army should be taken on board before a final call is taken.”
With PTI inputs