New Delhi, Nov 13: Ahead of his meeting with the Prime Minister on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act issue, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today met Defence Minister A K Antony and Army Chief V K Singh to press for early removal of the Act from certain parts of the state.
During his meeting with Antony, Omar presented his case for removal of AFSPA from at least from four districts—two each in Kashmir and Jammu, official sources said.
While Antony conveyed the reservations of the Army over such a move, Omar emphasised the need to translate the promises made by the National Conference-Congress alliance on ground and reward the people of the state for maintaining a peaceful year, the sources said.
To drive home his point, Omar noted that he state has seen a boom in the tourism industry with nearly 13 lakh tourists visiting the state till October this year.
The Chief Minister is scheduled to meet the Prime Minister, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P Chidambaram in this connection tomorrow to present the case of the state government for removal of AFSPA from certain parts of the state.
There was no official word on what transpired during the hour-long meeting between Omar and the Army Chief. The Army has voiced its serious reservations over withdrawal of AFSPA from certain parts citing security concerns.
The J-K Government has been pressing for partial removal of AFSPA and suggested that it could be removed from Srinagar and Budgam besides Jammu city and Sambha.
A Unified Headquarters meeting was held recently in which Army gave a detailed briefing on its opposition for even partial removal of AFSPA from certain areas of the state and also went to the extent that if AFSPA is removed, Kashmir may become independent by 2016, a statement which shocked everyone present at the meeting.
Army contended that AFSPA is an enabling act to counter terrorists operations and should be seen in the context of the proxy war waged by Pakistan in the state. Other central agencies opposed the Army's move and termed the assertion of the Army as a far-fetched and without any basis.
The Chief Minsiter told the meeting in no uncertain terms that “no is not an option” and that partial removal of AFSPA would have to take place. Omar also later went on to stress that he was fully authorised to revoke the act from the areas he wished.
Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had said in Jammu recently that no controversy should be made out of AFSPA and the decision has to be taken politically.