The ruling coalition partner Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised the political mercury by shooting off a letter to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad that he convene a special meeting of the Cabinet to talk and decide demilitarisation and also withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Jammu and Kashmir.
This letter comes close on heels of a letter of the party leadership to withdraw its personal security cover and effect these changes in the internal security landscape of the State, where troops are deployed for internal security with special powers to seize and shoot under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) since July 1990.
"There should be measured, responsive and responsible reduction of the armed forces engaged in the task of the maintaining internal security in the State.
"They should be replaced in appropriately selected areas, by the local police personnel, whose engagement in fighting militancy would be more effective and result yielding," the letter written and signed by PDP’s legislature party leader Abdul Aziz Zargar says.
“ The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (APSPA) should be withdrawn as it is obvious that this statute will not be applicable to the operation of local police,” it said. “Peoples Democratic Party believes that during the course of the last four years, situation on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir has materially and considerably improved as a result of the various policy initiatives of the State Government backed fully and wholeheartedly by the Union Government. The process of dialogue and inclusive engagement, which has been set in motion, is yielding rich dividends, both at home and abroad,” the letter observed arguing as to why this measure was a necessity.
PDP that has l placed itself in the forefront of the campaign for the withdrawal of the troops and APSPA – the legacy of the Disturbed Area Act that governs entire State barring Ladakh region- took this decision at a political affairs committee meeting of the party late Saturday evening. The letter was sent to Chief Minister within minutes after the meeting.
The letter, polite in tone, has very strong reminders for Chief Minister. It has reminded Azad of his word at a cabinet meeting on February 15, wherein he is reported to have suggested that this matter be discussed at a later stage His comments came after Agriculture Minister Abdul Aziz Zargar had raised the issue at the cabinet meeting in pursuance of his leader and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s directive that the matter be raised at the cabinet meeting.
Mufti Sayeed himself had disclosed to media on February 13 that PDP would raise the issue at the cabinet meeting.
While the letter asks Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to convene the meeting at his “ earliest convenience,” it makes it clear that it should be exclusive for the discussion on the two subjects- reduction of troops and withdrawal of APSPA..
The letter says that these measures, if taken, would further the dialogue process in the State.
“We believe that the process of dialogue and engagement will become more credible, productive and inclusive if the Government adopts the aforementioned suggestions made by Peoples Democratic Party ,” the letter said and observed : “While we should give no quarters to the enemies of peace and the followers of violence, we should also not provide any excuse to them to malign the Governments of the State and the Union.”
It said that the “ acceptance of the Peoples Democratic Party's proposals would go a long way in enhancing the people's faith in the democratic set-up, justice and rule of law for which our country stands.”
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