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Army chief against any dilution of AFSPA

Source: PTI
January 14, 2013 17:57 IST
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Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh on Monday opposed any dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir, saying any decision to revoke it from any part should be taken only after getting inputs from security agencies and stakeholders.

He also disfavoured demilitarisation of Siachen Glacier area against the backdrop of the "trust deficit" existing with Pakistan.

"I am of the view that we should not dilute provisions of the AFSPA. Terrorists are afraid of this because this gives us powers to carry out operations against inimical elements and enemies of the state who defy the rule of law.

"Any decision to revoke this from any part where it is applicable must be taken after consideration of all facts and inputs from all security agencies and stakeholders that are deployed," Gen Singh said in his annual Army Day press conference.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been pushing for partial lifting of AFSPA from the State and asking all stakeholders to shed rigidity to help take a decision based on the improved security situation in the state.

Gen Singh said AFSPA was "an enabling" act as it "gives us additional powers to operate in an environment which is marked by very high degree of uncertainty and complexity and an asymmetric environment where you cannot differentiate between a friend and a foe as the terrorist merges with the backdrop and hides amongst the locals."

"There are challenges for soldiers while carrying out operations and we got to give these enablers to the soldiers," the Army chief said.

On the army's stand on Siachen Glacier area, he said, "it is strategically important for us. It is our area and we need to continue to hold it."

He said if any thought is to be given to consideration in terms of demilitarising and pulling out, "it is to be done in the backdrop of the trust deficit which is to be addressed and we got to wait and watch the conduct of the Pakistan Army and then take a call on it."

He said any decision in this regard by the authorities concerned has to be "very conscious, deliberate and pragmatic and not lose out the strategic gains that we have made. We have shed a lot of blood in trying to gain that advantage and let us value that."

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