In contradiction to the chief minister Omar Abdullah’s stand on the revocation of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state, senior Congress leader and cabinet minister, Taj Mohiuddin Saturday echoed the view of Army shief, saying, army must be provided legal cover while dealing with militancy in civilian areas.
“Forces are operating in civilian areas against militants. They need some authority and legal cover to operate against militants in these areas. We cannot expect them to fight militants in absence of such a law”, Taj Mohhiddin told a local news agency, KNS.
Taj added that in absence of AFSPA forces could become a soft target for militants and army’s view about revocation of AFSPA has to be respected. The Minster also said that it was better to send army back to barracks rather than risking their lives by asking them to operate in civilian areas without legal cover.
Incidentally his views also go against the support expressed by state congress chief Saifuddin Soz to Omar’s demand.
Senior Congress minister said all the three stake holders viz government of India, state government and army, have to evolve consensus to reach a final decision. “Army is saying that revocation of AFSPA from a particular area would pave way for militants to hide and remain safer there. Their view has to be respected”, Taj told KNS.
When asked about state Congress President Saifudin Soz having taken up the issue with Union Home Minister Shushil Kumar Shinde, he said, “Whatever Soz Sahab has said may be true but I’m expressing my own views”.
Speaking about the demand for return of mortal remains of Mohammad Afzal Guru, the Senior Congress Leader said, “Family of Afzal Guru should approach court for seeking return of mortal remains. Everyone is equal before a law”.
When asked if the Congress would join state government’s demand for return of mortal remains, he said the state government has already written to central government about the issue.