Time for Centre to have a re-look at AFSPA: Omar Abdullah

Tosamaidan (J-K):  Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said regardless of the situation in Afghanistan or Pakistan, time was “opportune” to make headway on revocation of AFSPA and maintained that he was not compromising on national security by raising the matter.

My point of view, and I will continue to maintain that point of view, is that every year we have a steady decline in militancy regardless of what happens with Afghanistan or Pakistan or anywhere else, I will continue to maintain that this is an opportune time (for the revocation of AFSPA from some parts of the state),” he said.

Omar was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function here, around 80 km from Srinagar.

The chief minister said the issue of AFSPA was a matter of discussion and it did not compromise on national security.

I am not compromising on anything. Raising an issue is not compromising on national security. I don’t think politics  is national security. If you can poke a hole in my argument on logical and sound basis, please do so,” he said.

Omar said there were areas in the state where the army does not participate in the anti-militancy operations now and time had come when the Centre needed to have a re-look at the issue of AFSPA.

“I am telling you that every year there has been a steady decline in militancy. There are areas in Jammu and Kashmir where the army does not participate in the anti-militancy operations now. On that basis alone, I believe that there is a moment that has arrived where we need to start looking at this,” he said.

The chief minister said he understood that the army and Ministry of Defence had “reservations” over the issue, but that would not stop him from talking about it.

“It is a matter for discussion and it should be a matter for discussion. Why can’t we discuss it. I understand the army has reservations, the Ministry of Defence has reservations. We can agree to disagree but that doesn’t stop me from talking about this,” he said.

Omar said the Defence Ministry’s line on the issue was not new or different.

“I did not renew the pitch (for revocation of AFSPA). I have always maintained that and I will continue to maintain it. I know that the Defence Minister has taken a line but that is not a new line, it is not a different line. As I said, different reasons are found for maintaining the AFSPA, that is their point of view,” he said.

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