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PC hints at denying special powers to Army
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, June 12
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said here today that the Centre would look into the demand of revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and he would discuss it with the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister.

Chidambaram, who presided over the meeting of the Unified Command Headquarters here yesterday, said he had assured Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that the revocation of AFSPA would be looked into in right earnest.

Accompanied by Omar and former Union minister and JKPCC chief Saifuddin Soz, the Union Home Minister was talking to mediapersons here this morning. He said it was a subject matter that had been raised even two months ago and he had said then that he would look into it after the parliamentary elections.

“Since elections are over, the Chief Minister has raised it again. I promise to look into the matter and discuss it with the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister,” Chidambaram said.

On the reduction of troops, the Home Minister said he spent a significant part of yesterday discussing the issue. “We have to carefully go into all aspects and are moving on that road,” he said.

Chidambaram said the Army was responsible for conventional defence on the borders, counter infiltration and counter terrorism within the state, while the paramilitary forces assist the state police in maintaining public order.

He said the maintenance of law and order was the primary responsibility of the police. “We are in the process of drawing the line where primary responsibility will come to the police,” he said.

Referring to the state of militancy in the state, Chidambaram said militancy had been contained and opined that rise in agitational activities should not come in the way of development or interfere in the normal lives of people. “I am not going to list or rank the problems which the state has faced for many years, but these problems require political solutions,” he said.

The Union Home Minister said he was aware about the political issues of the state and a dialogue with people required to address these issues would start at an appropriate time. “We have to engage everyone in the dialogue,” he said.

Chidambaram said he had assured the Chief Minister that the Centre would aid the state government in improving the security environment. He said the Centre would also help the state government in containing terrorism and would like the Army to do it in areas far away from cities and towns, where security is the primary responsibility of the police.

Chidambaram said he had planned his visit to the state two days after taking over as Home Minister. “I met Omar Abdullah in New Delhi and told him that I would like to first visit Jammu and Kashmir after assuming the charge of Home ministry,” he said.

Replying to a question about the Shopian incident, he said the incident was unfortunate and that he had been briefed by the state government about it. “The intention of the Chief Minister is good. There will be a proper action, follow up and those found guilty will be punished,” the Home Minister said.

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