Centre should take into account CM's views on AFSPA: Farooq

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Farooq Abdullah
New Delhi, Nov 17: Supporting Omar Abdullah's demand for withdrawal of AFSPA from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Union Minister Farooq Abdullah today (Nov 17) said the Chief Minister is ''the boss'' in the state and the Centre should take his views on the controversial Act.

The New and Renewable Energy Minister said the security situation in the state has improved and the Act must go from some areas there.

"I feel that time has come when the state is on the mend and from some of the areas there, the AFSPA should go because people feel that things are getting normal," he said when asked about his views on the issue.

"As Chief Minister, I am the boss. I get the inputs from all the agencies. Today, if the Chief Minister feels that conditions are better and our relations with Pakistan are improving, then I feel that we should take his view also with courage," the former J-K Chief Minister said.

Omar is demanding revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from certain parts of the state, a move which is opposed by the Army saying it will handicap its ability to operate there.

Abdullah said he and his family "will die but not do anything which will hurt the interest of the country".

He said Omar met all Central ministers in-charge of security along with Army chief and they will take a decision on the issue.

He said similar objections were raised against removal of 40 bunkers from the Srinagar city but the situation has been "fantastic" in the state which has seen "excellent" tourist season this year.

Abdullah said India's relations with Pakistan have also improved after the meeting between the two Prime Ministers but cautioned that before taking any step, New Delhi should be careful as Army was "still in command" in Islamabad.

"We have to be very careful. Whatever steps have to be taken, they have to be taken with great care with all the things being understood carefully, then only one must take steps," he said.

On the Indo-Pak ties, Abdullah said, "Our Prime Minister has high hopes on the issue but our Defence Minister is wary."

Commenting on the Unified Command Headquarters, which has been entrusted the task of taking a decision on the AFSPA issue, Abdullah said he was the one who created the command there which was opposed "tooth and nail" by the then army chief Gen Shankar Roychowdhury.

Attacking BJP leader L K Advani's statement that army was being "demonised" in J-K, Abdullah asked, "Where was he when the NDA Government was releasing five top terrorists in special aircraft in Afghanistan".

PTI

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