Wish Congress had done before 2014, says Omar Abdullah on grand old party’s manifesto promise to amend AFSPA

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Updated: April 3, 2019 8:53:52 AM

The Congress party in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls promised to amend the AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir to strike a balance between the powers of security forces and the human rights of civilians.

AFSPA, Omar AbdullahOmar Abdullah has welcomed the Congress promise to amend AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have welcomed the Congress’ promise in its manifesto to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act if it gains majority in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

Speaking to reporters after Congress released its election document on Tuesday, Omar said that the Congress should have taken this decision when he was the Chief Minister of the border state. Omar told reporters that he was in favour of lifting the AFSPA when the Congress-led UPA was in the power and then Home minister P Chidambaram had supported him but some Congress friends from the state conspired against him.

Without naming the Congress leaders who protested against his opinion to lift AFSPA, he said, “If the Congress has mentioned this in their manifesto, I welcome it. It is better late than never. If they had done this before 2014 (polls), we would have worked to lift ASFPA from certain parts of the state. It is a very good thing. I wish they had done this when I was the chief minister of the state.”

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“That time when I demanded the removal of AFSPA, some Congress friends had conspired against it. I do not want to name them because it won’t look good. There were some senior leaders from Kashmir who conspired against my efforts. I got support only from former Home minister P Chidambaram,” the leader added.

The National Conference of Omar Abdullah and Congress are contesting elections in Jammu and Kashmir together. The two parties had ruled the state between 2009 and 2015.

Mufti in her remark said that Congress’ promise is a welcome step to amend AFSPA and hold regular talks with separatists.

“I welcome it. It was our agenda when we were in coalition with BJP to revoke AFSPA , to recall security forces from civilian areas, to have dialogue with representatives of separatists and Pakistan. I am happy Congress has included it in their manifetso. I am happy that the party has included AFSPA in its manifesto,” she said.

The Congress party on Tuesday released its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls which promises to amend the AFSPA to ‘strike a balance between the powers of security forces and the human rights of civilians and to remove immunity for enforced disappearance, sexual violence and torture’.

“The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Disturbed Areas Act in Jammu and Kashmir will be reviewed. Suitable changes will be made in the text of the laws to balance the requirements of security and the protection of human rights,” it reads.

The AFSPA gives special power to the armed forces to arrest, use force and even open fire on anyone who violate the law of the land. Apart form Jammu and Kashmir, AFSPA is applicable in some parts of the north east states including Nagaland and Manipur.

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