Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday said that removal of troops and scrapping of their special powers at this moment would revert the situation to the high militancy days of 1990.
He said that he was in favour of reduction of troops and their powers if the peace times return to the 1988 level. There was no violence and militancy in 1988, and people enjoyed free movement without any fear and security. "That time has not arrived as yet."
Refusing to make it as an issue, he said," It is no body's case to reduce the number of troops or scarp their special powers. Some people, who say, that the time has come for that as the level of violence has come down, they should also know that it is because of the presence of the troops and their powers," Azad told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview Tuesday evening, answering questions why the troops were required with the extraordinary powers they were having in the State.
"They have made supreme sacrifices. More than 5,000 of their men have lost lives while protecting our lives and property for almost two decades," he said.
"I am afraid that any misstep at this moment would bring us back to the situation of 1990," he said as he explained that why the time was not ripe for the withdrawal of troops.
Chief Minister was replying questions on the reduction of troops and scrapping of AFSPA that has emerged as hot issue in the state polity for the past week.
The 1990 is regarded as zero years in the calendar of terrorism when Kashmir was under perennial shutdown, experienced civil curfews, and abductions were rampant and the people were killed like animals on streets.
It was during that period, when the situation had started spiraling out of control that the then Governor G C Saxena had proclaimed Disturbed Areas Act and vested special powers to the security forces under Jammu and Kashmir Armed Forces Special Powers Act .
The State was under Governor's rule and the Centre was ruled by the National Front Government of VP Singh.
"If we want the situation to stablise, we need troops and their powers. But, at the same time, we should ensure, which my Government is doing that these special powers are to curb militancy, protect people," he said and emphatically added: "I am trying for that."