Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has suffered a major setback after the Centre categorically ruled out revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.
In a written reply to a pointed question, Union minister of state for home affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary had told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that there were no plans to revoke AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir and North-eastern states.
In the Agenda of Alliance, the PDP-BJP government had agreed to examine the need for de-notifying the disturbed areas to enable the centre to take a final view on the continuation of the AFSPA in these areas. Centre’s blunt “no” to revocation of AFSPA, however, has put the PDP in a tight spot with the opposition parties gunning for its head calling. It’s a “sell-out” on the part of PDP to stay in power, they alleged.
“PDP has completely sold out all its ideologies and political stand for the sake of chair. Mehbooba Mufti after the death of her father took a stand and try to fool the people about AFSPA and getting power projects back. Today she could have fooled the people again by saying they are in process of lifting AFSPA, but the BJP at centre categorically said they are not going to revoke it,” Aga Ruhullah, chief spokesman of National Conference, told DNA.
Except Kargil and Leh districts of Ladakh, AFSPA is imposed in all other 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Under AFSPA, the armed forces have sweeping powers to operate in the state with impunity. An official of the armed forces can shoot anybody if he is of the opinion that he is acting against law.
Under AFSPA the forces can also search or even destroy property if they are of the opinion that it is used as a hideout for the terrorists. In normal circumstances, it is the competent magistrate who has to give orders to open fire or search the property. Under fire, PDP tried to put up a brave face saying this is not the setback and they would continue to pursue this issue. “Government of India has never ever said we will repeal the AFSPA. It is a matter which is being pursued.
These things have been said by people earlier also. It is not a setback. We will persue it, as and when it is required”, said Rafi Ahmad Mir, PDP spokesman for Kashmir. BJP, the ruling alliance partner of PDP, said atmosphere is not conducive for lifting of AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir. “AFSPA is a domain of security agencies. It can be be decided by the security agencies alone”, said Khalid Jehangir, BJP spokesman for Kashmir.