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 AFSPA to stay till needed: Sagar

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PostSubject: AFSPA to stay till needed: Sagar   Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:50 am

Beigh said Act not made applicable to J&K
AFSPA to stay till needed: Sagar

From Inayat Jehangir

SRINAGAR, Aug 20: Even as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah called for a review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Delhi recently, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar today said the Act would continue to remain in force in the State as long as it is needed.

Sagar was apparently caught on the back foot as opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Muzaffar Hussain Beigh began discussions on the grants for Law Department in the State Assembly by questioning the applicability of AFSPA to the State.

"We all agree that Act (AFSPA) will be there till needed," Sagar said in his reply to the Beigh's speech earlier which lasted nearly 30 minutes.

Although the Law Minister said he did not want to play politics on the issue of AFSPA, it was a fact that the Act was implemented in ordinance form in the State in 1990 when former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the Union Home Minister.

"We were happy that a Muslim, that too from J&K, was appointed as the Home Minister of the country. But it was during his tenure that the Act was implemented in the State, CRPF were given the search power and Jagmohan was sent as Governor to the State," Sagar said.

Sagar's speech infuriated Mehbooba, who leveled counter charges against the National Conference for bringing laws like POTA and creating Special Task Force during its regime from 1996 to 2002.

A heated exchange of words continued between Sagar and Mehbooba but only the Law Minister could be heard as only his microphone was on.

"(You) accept the fact that AFSPA was implemented by your father. We quit the power in 1990 . A peon does not leave his post today but we sacrificed four years of power," he said.

In an apparent justification of application of AFSPA, the Law Minister said there were only 72 militants in the state when it was extended to the State.

As per the reports of various security agencies, more than 700 militants are still active in the State today.

Sagar claimed that the previous coalition Government of PDP and Congress did nothing with regard to revocation of AFSPA for six years when they were in power. "I have called for the entire record and there is nothing about it not a single letter has been written to Centre about the (revocation of the) Act," he added.

Sagar said the present Government was matching its words with its deeds. "Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in the Chief Ministers' Conference in Delhi made it clear that situation in Jammu and Kashmir had improved and time had come to review the application of AFSPA in the State," he added.

The Minister claimed that National Conference was the real representative party of the people and had given lot of sacrifices for the welfare of the people. "Our leaders spent years in jails for the people of the State we have suffered a lot. How can we do something that will trouble the people," he said.

Not satisfied with the Minister's reply, the entire PDP Legislature Party walked out of the House.

Earlier, Beigh said the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution of the country, which empowers Centre to use Armed Forces in aid of civilian administration to protect the integrity and unity of the country, was not made applicable to the State of J&K by the then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.

"No subsequent Government in the State allowed implementation of the AFSPA. So, is there any Act for extending the AFSPA to the State?' he asked.

Beigh said the application of AFSPA in the State was doubtful in its present form.

He highlighted the measures taken during the tenure of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as Chief Minister in getting relief to the people of the State from frequent frisking and crack downs conducted by security forces.

"We hope that more relief will come to the people of the State by the efforts of this Government," he said.

Beigh also called on the Government to review the Disturbed Areas Act as per the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court which call for a review of the Act every six months. "The SC order has not been applied."

He asked the Government to advertise the 'do's and don't's' procedures to be followed by the security forces while conducting operations so that people of the State do not feel that it is an occupational army and are functioning under the law of the land.

BJP leader Prof Chaman Lal Gupta and NC MLA Chaudhry Mohammad Ramzan sought measures from the Government to reduce the pendency of cases in the courts of the State.

"Laws are not being implemented. I do not understand how those people arrested in Hawala cases and antai-terrorist cases are released. Even the persons arrested for Qasim Nagar massacre, where 28 persons were killed, are roaming free today," he said.

Mr Beigh said the Jawahar tunnel, the only link to the Kashmir valley and the rest of the country, was being closed in the evening and people were facing difficulties as the security forces had closed many roads and people have to walk for miles in Kashmir, particularly in rural areas.

However, he said, it was then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who took bold decisions and asked the authorities to keep the tunnel open for 24 hours and remove all the hurdles for free movement.

He said PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, even when not in office, raised some issues, including revocation of the AFSPA, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

About the Distrubed Areas Act (DAA) Mr Beigh said under the Supreme Court ruling, any area can be declared disturbed only in case of grave situation of law and order.

The court has given clear instructions that the Government concerned will review it after every six months.

"If you keep Army and other security forces in civilian areas for 15 years in some Jammu districts and 20 in all Kashmir districts without any review of DAA, the relations between security forces and civilian is bound to get disturbed, he said.

He said by not reviewing the DAA, the Government was refusing to accept the Supreme Court directions.
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