Addressing the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security in New Delhi, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah Wednesday made a strong case for setting in motion a mechanism which can guide phased removal of AFSPA from the State.
“Most of the people will share my opinion that the overall security situation in Jammu and Kashmir State has improved significantly and as per now, there are many districts which have not witnessed militancy related incidents for quite some time. This gives us the confidence to re-visit some of the special laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which were enacted to counter the menace of militancy”, he asserted and said that he has been consistently advocating for phased withdrawal of AFSPA from the State in the beginning from the areas which have been free from militancy for quite some time.
“Working Groups constituted by the Prime Minister have also recommended revocation of AFSPA, so have the Interlocutors in their report”, said the Chief Minister adding that keeping in view the improved security scenario he would strongly urge the Government of India to set in motion a mechanism which can guide us for removal of AFSPA.
Omar said that besides advocating revocation of AFSPA in the Chief Ministers’ Conferences on Internal Security, he has been continuously pitching for partial and gradual revocation of AFSPA from the areas where peace has prevailed and militancy related incidents have diminished considerably. He said that he has also highlighted this issue in the meetings with the Prime Minister, Home Minister and at various Unified Command Headquarter meetings and other fora including former Home Minister.
“Though these are the fora where such issues are raised for getting noted for required action, yet if someone feels that I should write to the concerned in this regard, I will definitely do the same”, he added and said that we cannot wait for last gun to fall silent before moving ahead positively on this important issue.
Omar Abdullah said that when no AFSPA like laws are required to be imposed in Naxal affected areas where heinous crimes are being committed by Naxalites, how it could be necessary to keep such laws in force in the areas in Jammu and Kashmir which have become by and large peaceful?
Strongly holding the position that a process of sustained, sincere and meaningful dialogue is the key to resolve all outstanding issues howsoever contentious these may be, the Chief Minister said that constructive dialogue with people from different shades of opinion in the State could substantially facilitate towards a common agreed solution.
“Similarly, there is also a need to resume the talks with the neighbouring country (Pakistan) and further add to the list of confidence building measures”, he maintained and said that the improved relations between India and Pakistan have definite positive impact in the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir State.
On Rehabilitation Policy, Omar Abdullah said that there is urgent need for economic and social rehabilitation for those who are returning to the State from PoK under this policy. “We have to facilitate their economic and social rehabilitation”, he said and sought a joint programme by the Union and the State Governments in this regard.
On the need for creating conducive and safe environment for J&K youth to pursue higher educational goals in various parts of the Country, Omar Abdullah said that the youth of Jammu and Kashmir have been making great strides in education and other fields. He said the number of candidates qualifying the Central Civil Service Examination is increasing year by year and the youth of the State are making their presence felt in different fields including private sector.
The Chief Minister said that the students of Jammu and Kashmir pursuing studies outside the State in different parts of the Country and those in other professions need a conducive and safe environment to enable them to realize their dreams and contribute in Nation building. “I would urge the Union Government and my counter parts in different States of the Country to promote and provide safe environment to the people of the State who are pursuing their studies and vocations in various parts of the Country”, he said adding that it would be a positive step in boosting their confidence and encouraging them to move to different parts of the Country for seeking education and employment.
On rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, Omar Abdullah pitched for enhancing the package for KPs to facilitate their return to their native land. He said though job package announced for KP youth has helped to some extent in creating an environment conducive for their return, yet many more steps are required in this direction. He urged the Union Government to enhance the assistance under accommodation package for Kashmiri Pandits so that they could construct their houses.
The Chief Minister said that in the year 2012 which was by far the best in Jammu and Kashmir in past 25 years in terms of all parameters, a record number of 12,36,941 tourists visited the State as compared to 8,98,558 during 2011. The pilgrimage to Shri Amarnath Ji and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi stood at 6,21,104 and 1,01,38,256 respectively. He said for the conduct of Shri Amarnath Ji yatra all necessary arrangements have been made.
Omar Abdullah said that the percentage of terrorist incidents decreased by 35 percent in the year 2012 as compared to 2011 and a significant decline in all types of causalities was registered in 2012. He said the year 2013 continues to show improvement in the security and law and order situation. “Our strategy on ground has been to deal firmly with militants and at the same time avoid any collateral damage”, he said and complemented all the security agencies deployed in the State for exercising restraint while dealing with law and order situation. He also paid tributes to the members of the security forces who have lost their lives in combating the terrorism. He also expressed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.
Minister of State for Home, Sajid Ahmad Kichloo was also present in the conference.