Monday, September 13, 2010


13 Sept 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: Deeply disturbed over a renewed spurt in violence in the Kashmir valley since the day of Eid on Saturday, the 3-hour long meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) ended without taking any decision except to convene an all-party meeting here on Wednesday to evolve a national consensus on tackling the situation.

It is understood to have decided not to dilute the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) but make it "humane" to remove grievances of any kind of misuse.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who was camping here since Sunday lobbying for repeal of AFSPA in Srinagar and four or five other districts, was told to rush back and take control of the worsening situation with at least 14 killed on Monday alone.

The CCS, chaired by the Prime Minister, issued an appeal to the people in the valley for peace, stressing that dialogue and discussions is the only way to solve the problems that only get complicated from violence.

Accepting the "trust deficit" between the people on one side and the Centre and the State Government on the other, the CCS decided to bridge it by restarting a dialogue without any delay to discuss all issues, but only after obtaining a national consensus in the all-party meeting on Wednesday on how to go about.

Sources said dilution of the AFSPA was not on the CCS agenda and Home Minister P Chidambaram bluntly told Omar Abdullah who called on him in the morning that the state government was the authority for repealing the Disturbed Areas Act in any district and he was unnecessarily putting the ball in the Centre's court instead of taking the decisions on his own.

Omar also called on Sonia Gandhi before flying back to Srinagar. He is understood to have been advised by the Congress President that it is his responsibility to establish a rapport with the agitated people instead of shirking own responsibility by wanting the Centre to take a series of political and economic measures. What use of such measures when the separatists are publicly refusing to accept any, he was reportedly told.

As regards the Chief Minister's demand to repeal AFSPA in at least four districts, the Home Ministry sources here said the government had already pulled out the Army from four districts, including Srinagar, and as such his demand was meaningless. These districts are still "disturbed areas" but an executive order of the state government is enough to declare them as not disturbed, the sources said.

As regards the CM's plea to provide a special compensation package to those killed or wounded in the firing by police and central security forces, the sources said nobody at the Centre stopped him from extending the help on his own instead of knocking at New Delhi's doors. Sonia Gandhi reportedly asked him why he did not establish rapport with the agitated youths by giving the ex-gratia and sitting with them to understand their issues.

Sources said a consensus in the CCS was not to dilute provisions of AFSPA that enable the Army and the security forces to tackle militancy without fear of reprisals but it agreed with the Prime Minister that it can be made "humane" to ensure nobody misuses the powers and the violators are brought to book without any leniency.


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