Chidambaram in Jammu, Omar presses for AFSPA withdrawal
Jammu, April 10 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah pressed Home Minister P. Chidambaram to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state, sources said Tuesday after a high level meeting to review security.
The meeting, chaired by Chidambaram and attended by civil, police, paramilitary, intelligence and army officials, also discussed a strategy for 'consolidating the peace of 2011', making public the interlocutors report on the state as well as security measures in the state.
According to official sources, Abdullah strongly advocated that the process of revoking AFSPA be started by lifting it from peaceful areas where the army has no operations.
He suggested that AFSPA, which gives armed forces in the state special powers, be lifted from districts like Jammu, Samba and Kathua in the Jammu region and Srinagar and Badgam in the Kashmir Valley.
According to the sources, the meeting was presented with graphs showing steady decline in militancy since 2010.
'For the revocation of AFSPA, the graph of militancy is the first and last point to be seen. The data reflects steep and drastic decline in militancy. This is self speaking,' said an official who was present at the meeting.
However, the army is of the view that the situation is still volatile.
The state government also supported the lifting of more security bunkers from the Kashmir Valley this summer 'to give more semblance of normalcy and peace'.
According to official statistics, 1,600 security bunkers have been erected in the state since 1990. About 80 bunkers, mostly from Srinagar, were removed last year. This year, there are plans to remove 25 more.
Abdullah, it is learnt, also said that the report of the interlocutors on the state be made public and its recommendations implemented. If not, such a process would lose credibility, he said at the meeting.
The panel of three interlocutors -- journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and former information commissioner M.M. Ansari -- was formed in October 2010. It submitted the report in October 2011.
The meeting also took stock of the overall security scenario in the state, infiltration of militants from Pakistan, strategy to counter militancy and steps for synergy between security and intelligence agencies.
Chidambaram arrived here Tuesday morning for a day-long visit to review the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and also pay obeisance at the Vaishno Devi shrine.
He began his visit by undertaking the journey to Vaishno Devi, about 50 km from here in the Trikuta hills. He boarded a chopper for Sanji Chhat and from there moved on foot to reach the shrine.
He was accompanied by Governor N.N. Vohra, who also heads the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board that manages the affairs of the shrine.
After visiting the shrine, the minister chaired the security meeting.
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