The cursed chapter of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir

 

Omar Abdullah was persistent in his demand for withdrawl of the AFSPA from the peaceful areas of the state. Despite stiff resistance, he remained constant in his demand during his six year term. The army officials complained that the demand for revocation of AFSPA is being propelled by the separatist leaders. To retaliate towards the threat of insurgency a Unified Command was formed in the valley in 1993. The state Chief Minister is the chairman of the Unified Command and despite being the political head of the state and head of the Unified Command, the then CM Omar Abdullah failed to convince the Army to remove AFSPA.

The act has been termed as an obnoxious law and a stumbling block in the progress of State by many leaders including the former Home Minister P Chidambram. Now the issue has been raked up by the PDP and BJP as the former has demanded the withdrawl of this law while the latter still doesn’t find the state ready enough to survive without AFSPA.  The separatist leaders however say that the real power lies with the security establishment and not with the elected leadership.

The law was invoked in the state on September 10, 1990 after the state government issues a notification declaring the valley as a disturbed area. Eventually the disturbed area was extended to Jammu province by the state government, in 2001. The districts of Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Poonch, Rajouri and Doda were declared to be disturbed areas along with Srinagar, Budgam, Anantnag, Pulwama, Baramulla and Kupwara. The state government had however not issued the disturbed area notice for ten years for Jammu province from 1990 to 2001. There has been no such notification for Ladakh region and hence the AFSPA provision does not apply to Ladakh.

The problem in Jammu and Kashmir however is the lawlessness in the police department who refuses to file case against the security agencies and the police in case of human rights violation. Hence even the withdrawl of AFSPA would not make any difference until the laws are followed in cases of human rights violation. The mainstream leaders however argue that removal of AFSPA is the only way to muster credence in the democracy otherwise the state will be back to square one and will only be governed by a security establishment regardless of who wins elections.