Army not a block, but a stakeholder: Soz
HIRANAGAR, Apr 15: Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz today chose to disagree with the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah that army was a block (hindrance) in Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) revocation. “He (Farooq) should not have said that. The army is not a block. It is a stakeholder, which needs to be taken on board,” Soz said.
He was talking to media after addressing a public rally organised by senior Congress leader and former MLA Girdhari Lal Chalotra at Hiranagar. On April 7, Farooq in a media interaction in Jammu had described the army as “the only block in AFSPA revocation.”
Soz, while terming the army as one of the stakeholders vis-à-vis the issue of AFSPA revocation, reiterated his stand that it (AFSPA), being a temporary law, should go. “It will definitely go as and when the Union Home Minister and the Defence Minister will be on the same page taking all the stakeholders on board,” he said.
CONGRESS’ STAND CONSISTENT ON AFSPA REVOCATION: JKPCC president stated that his stand on AFSPA revocation has always been consistent.
“My stand on AFSPA is consistent. AFSPA is a temporary law and it has to go. It should go but the stakeholders are many – the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the army, the para military forces, the Jammu and Kashmir police. So therefore I’ve adopted the best course. I tell (A K) Antonyji and (Sushil Kumar) Shindeji – please meet, please agree and when they agree, that will be in the middle I’ll agree with them.” In the same breath, he advocated the cause of the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too on this account as he said, “The Chief Minister represents the state. Sometimes he does not like to say what the people say. But even so he’s the Chief Minister. And I told them (Shinde and Antony)– take the Chief Minister on board and decide. Come to the acceptable means. I’ll join them.”
ON DR FAROOQ ABDULLAH’S STATEMENT THAT ARMY IS THE MAIN BLOCK IN AFSPA REVOCATION: When asked to comment on National Conference president and Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah’s recent statement that army was the only block in the process of AFSPA revocation, Soz chose to disagree with him.
Qualifying his statement, JKPCC president said, “He (Farooq) should not have said that. Why? Because, the army is a stakeholder, so the army has to be taken on board, the Chief Minister has to be taken on board. Both have to be taken on board because he’s the chairman of the Unified Command. But Unified Command means - the army and para-military forces. They have to be taken on board.”
FAROOQ’S RENEWED DEMAND FOR AUTONOMY: Soz, however, tried to play down media queries about Farooq’s renewed demand for greater autonomy saying, “Article 370 has to be there always. It will never go. For greater autonomy, one may talk with the Centre.”
IS TIME RIPE FOR SEPARATISTS TO CONTEST ELECTIONS? When asked whether this was the time for separatists to contest elections as well, he said, “Of course, nobody can become a leader unless he has fought an election. And may be in 2014 in Kashmir, many new faces will be there and I’ll welcome them and we should try for that. Ghutan Khatam Ho Jayegi Ek Saath Chalengay..(Suffocation will end when we’ll move together).”