Can't wait for last gun to fall silent to repeal AFSPA: Omar

Omar Abdullah
New Delhi, June 5: "We cannot wait for last gun to fall silent," Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said today as he made a strong pitch for repeal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the state.

Supporting his demand, 43-year-old Omar asked that if no AFSPA-like laws are required to be imposed in Naxal-affected areas where heinous crimes are being committed by Naxalites, how it could be necessary to keep such laws in force in the areas in Jammu and Kashmir which have become by and large peaceful?

Strongly advocating repeal of AFSPA at the Chief Ministers' Conferences on Internal Security, which was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said he has been continuously pitching for partial and gradual revocation of AFSPA from the areas where peace has prevailed and militancy related incidents have diminished considerably.

Omar said he also highlighted this issue in the meetings with the Prime Minister, Home Minister and at various Unified Command Headquarter meetings and other fora and also with former Home Minister P Chidambaram.

"Though these are the fora where such issues are raised for getting noted for required action, yet if someone feels that I should write DO (demi official letter) to the concerned in this regard, I will definitely do the same," he said, adding, "We cannot wait for last gun to fall silent before moving ahead positively on this important issue."

He asked the Centre for setting in motion a mechanism which could guide in repealing of the act from the state.

Omar also chose to raise the issue of arrest of Liyaqat Shah by Delhi Police and warned that such incidents would derail the entire process of bringing back youths from Pakistan occupied Kashmir who wanted join the national mainstream.

"There is urgent need for economic and social rehabilitation for those who are returning to the state from PoK under this policy. We have to facilitate their economic and social rehabilitation," Omar said and sought a joint programme by the Union and the state governments on this.

He said the return of youth under rehabilitation policy would also help solve the issue of disappearance of people to a greater extent as many of them who had crossed the LoC during the period of disturbance.

About the allegations of youth from his state being harassed in various parts of the country, Omar stressed on putting in place a mechanism to ensure that the students and professionals pursuing their goals in the country could access the authorities concerned in those states in case of any emergency.

He also asked the heads of various states to direct their police forces to ascertain the veracity of facts and antecedents of residents of Jammu and Kashmir from the J&K Police Force in case of any inquiry or suspicion, before taking any action or making any arrest.

He also underlined the importance and significance of the voices of mainstream political parties be registered properly to avoid the chance of letting separatists hijack the situations.

On rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, Omar pitched for enhancing the package for them to facilitate their return to their native land and urged the Centre to enhance assistance under accommodation package for the community so that they could construct their houses.

Highlighting the continued improving situation in the state, he said the year 2012 was by far the best in the past 25 years in terms of all parameters and all indices of violence have shown a constant and continuous decline.

"Most people will share my optimism that the overall security situation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has improved significantly, and as of now, there are many districts of the state which have not witnessed militancy related incidents for quite some time," he said, adding this "gives us the confidence" that some of special laws like AFSPA need to be revisited.


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