SRINAGAR: Government of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has revealed it has not received any written request from the Government of Jammu and Kashmir for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from last two years.
The demand for revocation of the act, that gives impunity to army and paramilitary forces operating in the state against criminal prosecution, always figured top on agenda of National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party. The pledge to purge Kashmir off this dreaded draconian law has been made by ruling Peoples Democratic Party and it also figures in the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ that was drafted by both BJP and PDP before forming the government in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015.
The recent revelation has surfaced in response to an application filed under Right to Information (RTI) Act by senior Journalist and Human Rights activist M.M. Shuja. The Home Ministry has also revealed that from past two years, no formal meeting has been held regarding the revocation of AFSPA.
In response to the several questions relating to revocation of this draconian law, the Ministry of Home Affairs has stated, “The situation with regard to Jammu and Kashmir is being reviewed in the Ministry from time to time, however, no formal meeting with regard to revocation of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir has been held during last two years. Furthermore, no request has been received from the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir during last two years regarding the revocation of this Act.”
When asked why State Government did not send a formal written request regarding the revocation of AFSPA to Government of India, State Government spokesperson and Minister for Education, Nayeem Akhtar, said that such matters are not resolved through written requests but through mutual understanding. “Revocation of AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir is an important part of Agenda of Alliance. We don’t believe in cosmetic measures. We are committed to revoke this Act,” Akhtar said.
In reply to the same question, National Conference General Secretary, Ali Muhammad Sagar, said that Omar Abdullah used all his resources to motivate and persuade the then Central leadership to revoke AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir, the fact publicly accepted by former Home Minister P. Chidambaram. “It is not fair to criticize previous government over the issue when we tried our best to repeal this draconian law from the State,” he said.
Senior Congress leader who was a Minister in the Omar Abdullah government said that it was the then Defence Minister A. K. Antony who vehemently opposed its revocation.