Guwahati: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said all three defence services wanted the removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir soon if peace prevails.
Singh was speaking at the felicitation of 1971 war veterans at Guwahati in Assam. “It not the defence services which wants AFSPA to continue. Tri services want AFSPA to even get removed from Jammu and Kashmir provided the peace prevails in the region,” Singh said.
The AFSPA was imposed in July 1990 in the Kashmir Valley and in August 2000 in the Jammu region to curb insurgency. Singh negated the notion that the defence forces which want AFSPA to continue in disturbed areas.
“Our defence forces don’t want to get involved in internal security, if AFSPA gets removed they could concentrate more on external security threat. So the popular notion that defence foces wants AFSPA to continue is wrong,” Singh added.
This is not the first time when Singh has spoken on the removal of the AFSPA in the Kashmir valley. During his visit to J&K as the home minister way back in 2015, Singh had said that the armed forces act can be removed if the situation is conducive.
“AFSPA was removed from 15 police stations in Manipur and Nagaland. That in itself means a lot. This is the result of durable peace and stability in this area,” the minister added. “It’s no small thing that for the last 3-4 years, the work of removing AFSPA is being done in the northeastern states. Recently AFSPA was completely removed from 23 districts of Assam,” the minister recalled the recent developments on the AFSPA in the north eastern states.
On March 31, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the Centre had decided to reduce the disturbed areas under the ambit of AFSPA in Nagaland, Manipur and Assam after decades.
After the move, the mainstream political parties in the Kashmir Valley had raised a fresh pitch for revoking the AFSPA from J&K. The section 4 of the act accords special powers to armed forces and authorises security personnel to open fire, arrest people without warrants, enter and search without warrant while having immunity from prosecution.