Sunday, September 12, 2010

Is revoking AFSPA Kashmir problem’s solution?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee


Consider this scenario - The security forces are facing a hostile situation in Kashmir. The government has given them a safety net in the form of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act). In simple words the security forces have the ‘right to kill’. On the other hand it will be unable to take on the hostile situation where every potential door and window in the valley is a terrorist hideout. There are calls to revoke it at the same time such powers are necessary as they give the military teeth to fight. What does the government do?

If the Chief Ministership of Jammu & Kashmir is offered to our netas, a majority of them would like to turn it down. It is perhaps the most thankless political job in the country. Before being critical of Omar Abdullah or any of his future successors we should spare a thought by being at their shoes. Every incident can snowball into an agitation in Kashmir valley; a stray incident of stone pelting has the potential to bring the scenic land to a halt for weeks. As Jammu & Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah campaigns for phased withdrawal of AFSPA the Centre is in two minds over the issue.

Let’s get the facts straight, AFSPA has been time and again abused by certain sections of the military. Be it in killing innocent people in the name of terrorists or assaulting women even to the extent of rapes and murders. In the name of conducting routine checks our security forces have crossed the line may a times. The call for scrapping such an act isn’t unjustified if you have been a victim of the high handedness of man in the Khakhi with Kalashnikovs and INSAS rifles.

Will revoking such acts really help on the ground? It seems very unlikely as the security forces cannot technically observe restrain in the counter insurgency operation being carried out in the valley everyday. No political policy can be used to command the men in uniform what to do and what not to do. When fired upon the security forces think of no act before retaliation. When challenged by terrorists using the civilian population as shield no act can stop the security forces taking a shot at the terrorists.

Does it mean AFSPA should remain for ever? No, this will have to be phased out for prolonged peace in the sate and in the interest of the Kashmiri people. But it seems no time for revoking such an act as the situation in the valley is as hostile as it can get. Security forces are being pelted with stones everyday. If the Kashmiris want such an act to be scrapped they have work in the interest of Kashmir themselves. They have to shun leaders who take commands from across the territory and talk of jihad and crusade. If not, revoking such an act and restoring it later won’t bring in normalcy to the Kashmir Valley.

3 comments:

Avishek Ganguly September 12, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

In my opinion, the present or rather any past governments have ever tried to solve the Kashmir issue with political finesse. Revoking the AFSPA is nothing but a populist policy, and its bound to create adverse consequences. It will lead to more anarchy and intolerant situation in the state. what's needed is a unanimous political and public understanding, which sadly, both the government and the Kashmiri leaders are unwilling to do.

Bijoy September 16, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

I think if we would have taken any extra action during Kargil war or before, this problem would have been solved much much ago. But it seems our country representative so called our political leaders never wanted that. If the people from across the border can enter into our territory and try to disturb the peace of our home, why not we go extra mile and teach them some lesson. Every time we console ourselves by saying that 'forgiveness' is in our blood. But till when? Now the time to act.

upolaris February 19, 2011 at 10:19 PM  

AFSPA is too draconian a law for a civilized nation & must be scrapped altogether. At the very least there should be a time limit on special powers (say 5 years). If leaders don't won't it repealed, they sould declare national emergency & apply AFSPA to all of India. That should foster some national unity.

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