Hope for J&K: Troop pullback, AFSPA revocation worth a try - The Tribune India

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Hope for J&K

Troop pullback, AFSPA revocation worth a try

Hope for J&K

Photo for representational purpose only. File photo

UNION Home Minister Amit Shah has said that the Central Government will consider revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir. He has also mentioned the government’s plans to pull back troops from the state-turned-UT and leave law and order duties solely to the J&K Police. The announcements leave no room for doubt that there has been a significant improvement in the security situation in J&K in recent years. The frequency of terror incidents and encounters has gone down; the annual death toll of civilians as well as security personnel has also dropped. Stone-pelting incidents, which had once become commonplace, are now a thing of the past.

Troop pullback and AFSPA revocation are a must for the government to achieve its objective of winning the hearts and minds of the UT residents. Recurring allegations of the misuse of the law — which gives the armed forces sweeping powers and immunity against prosecution in disturbed areas — have aggravated the trust deficit between the security forces and the citizens. The dreaded law should no longer be allowed to impede the restoration of normalcy in J&K. The authorities can take a cue from the phased withdrawal of AFSPA from one state after another in the North East, where development has gained momentum after decades of insurgency.

With the Supreme Court validating the constitutionality of the decision to abrogate Article 370, the Centre needs to promptly set into motion a series of confidence-building measures. Shah has stated that the J&K Assembly elections — last held in 2014 — would be conducted before September, as directed by the apex court. It is imperative to resume the electoral exercise so that regional political parties and voters can again become active constituents of a democratic polity. A timeframe for the restoration of statehood, which is at the core of the people’s aspirations, should also be spelt out.

#Amit Shah #Jammu #Kashmir

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