Chidambaram discusses AFSPA with Kashmir government
Jammu, April 10 (IANS) An announcement on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will be made as soon as the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) decided on the amendments, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Tuesday after a high-level meeting to review security in Jammu and Kashmir.
Chidambaram, on a daylong visit to Jammu during which he also visited the Vaishno Devi shrine, told reporters that the home ministry had proposed 'three amendments to AFSPA and they are under consideration of the CCS'.
'An announcement will be made as soon as decision is taken on it,' Chidambaram said after chairing a meeting that also discussed a strategy for 'consolidating peace of 2011', the interlocutors report and security measures in the state.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah pressed the minister to revoke AFSPA, which gives armed forces special powers, said informed sources after the meeting also attended by civil, police, paramilitary, intelligence and army officials.
He suggested that AFSPA 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.
However, the army feels 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 home minister responded by saying that the report would be discussed by the union cabinet before making it public.
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 and later left for New Delhi.
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