Friday, 28 June 2013

Home ministry rules out withdrawl of AFSPA from Srinagar

NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry has ruled out withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Srinagar, arguing that the terrorist attack on Monday that left eight Army personnel dead had eliminated such a possibility in the near future.

An official of the home ministry told ET that the attack on the Army convoy on the Srinagar bypass road had strengthened the case of the forces, even as Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah had been pressing the Centre to enable his government to send out a political message ahead of the assembly elections in the state next year. "The Army has been objecting to lifting AFSPA from Srinagar, saying its convoys going up to the Line of Control pass through Srinagar and hence they need AFSPA protection in the event they come under a militant attack within Srinagar's limits," said the official, who did not wish to be named.

This is exactly what happened on Monday, the official pointed out, when a convoy was travelling on the Srinagar bypass road in the Hyderpora area. "This strengthens the Army's case for continuance of AFSPA in Srinagar though there is no Army presence in Srinagar," he added.

Abdullah has been demanding withdrawal of AFSPA from Srinagar and three other districts of the state, saying militancy has gone down in the summer capital of the state over the years. "We cannot wait for the last gun to fall silent before moving ahead positively on this important issue," Abdullah had said on June 5. The official, however, said that technically the state government has to decide on lifting the Disturbed Areas Act from Srinagar.

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