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Amid strife, Cabinet discusses AFSPA

Last updated on: September 13, 2010 18:35 IST

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met in New Delhi on Monday to discuss a package for Jammu and Kashmir hit by a fresh bout of violence since Eid last Saturday.

The pros and cons of a phased withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA) from some areas in the border state as part of the package were deliberated at the crucial meeting.

The meeting reviewed the present situation in the Valley where 12 more people were killed on Monday. The toll in the three-month unrest in the Valley rose to 75.

Hours before the crucial CCS meeting, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had separate meetings with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram during which a political package for the state figured during the deliberations.

The chief minister had also met other Union Ministers yesterday, including health minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad whose support was sought for a political package to the state.

The proposal being deliberated upon to restore peace in the Kashmir valley was withdrawal of AFSPA from six districts--three each in  Kashmir and Jammu regions – besides a special compensation  package for those killed and injured in the violence in the recent weeks.

The defence ministry, which has been opposing any moves to withdraw AFSPA, indicated at one of the meetings recently that Army should never be called for any assistance in those areas where the Act was repealed. Besides AFSPA, Omar has also urged the Government to kick-start a political dialogue with the separatists at the earliest. CCS also discussed measures to incorporate certain provisions in AFSPA to make it more "humane".

The Law Commission and Administrative Reforms Commission are also in favour of repealing the act. The Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Veerappa Moily, now Law Minister, has endorsed withdrawal of AFSPA or at least incorporation of some measures which prevents giving sweeping powers to the security forces.

The prime minister had also constituted a committee headed by Hamid Ansari before he became the vice-president, to find ways for improving internal confidence building measures. The Ansari panel had recommended revocation of AFSPA in the

Besides resumption of dialogue with all shades of opinion and a review of laws, Omar's strategy envisages measures to deal with unemployment with six lakh jobless youth, a comprehensive package for people who have suffered during the present unrest and former militants who served their sentence and were without jobs, sources said.

Among other issues discussed at the CCS meeting were the relocation of security forces and a fresh surrender policy.




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