Omar meets Antony on AFSPA ahead of state cabinet meet

November 13th, 2011 - 7:27 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Jammu, Nov 13 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Sunday met Defence Minister A.K. Antony in New Delhi to discuss his government’s demand for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts of the state.

The meeting between Abdullah and Antony comes four days ahead of a meeting of the Jammu and Kashmir cabinet on Nov 17 to discuss the repeal of AFSPA from some part of the states.

The two leaders were closeted for almost an hour at Antony’s official Krishna Menon Marg residence in the capital, but details of their discussion were not available immediately, sources in New Delhi said.

The meeting comes close on the heels of Antony saying the state’s Unified Command core committee headed by Abdullah and comprising commanders of the Indian Army’s 15 and 16 Corps and the state police was empowered to take a decision on the demand for withdrawal of the AFSPA.

Antony had a couple of days ago noted that the defence ministry had already conveyed its opinion on the matter to the government.

The defence minister’s remarks came in the wake of Abdullah’s assertions that he had the powers, as state chief minister, to decide on the AFSPA withdrawal.

Meanwhile, official sources in Jammu said the Jammu and Kashmir cabinet will meet Nov 17 to discuss the revocation of AFSPA from parts of the state.

The cabinet would be briefed by the chief minister about the deliberations that took place on the revocation of AFSPA at the unified command meeting in Jammu Nov 9, the sources told IANS.

The Indian Army has opposed even partial lifting of AFSPA from the state, saying it would “hamper the army’s operations against terrorists and their network in the state”.

However, Abdullah has indicated he would go ahead with the revocation of AFSPA from at least four districts of the state — Srinagar and Budgam in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu and Samba in the Jammu region.

In an interview with a news channel recently, Abdullah said the army has not operated in these areas for long and hence does not need the protection of the special powers.

The current debate on the issue began after the chief minister Oct 21 announced in Srinagar that AFSPA will go from some areas of the state within days.

AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces, was invoked in the valley in 1990 and the Jammu region in 2001.

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