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Army ‘most disciplined force’, time not ripe for AFSPA repeal: CM

Srinagar, Feb 02: Days after she said that Army could have black sheep in its ranks, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during her speech in Assembly on Friday gave out an olive branch to the force after she said that Army was the “most disciplined force in the world”.
The CM also said that time was not ripe to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the special provision that provides armed forces added power and immunity while serving in conflict zones.
Referring to the Shopian incident and the claims of a counter FIR filed by the Army, Mehbooba said that it was actually the Army’s statement that they submitted to the police on the second day of the incident and is now part of the FIR registered against army on the first day.
She added “we have to listen to both the sides before taking any action”.
“We want to reduce footprints of police and security forces in the Valley, but can it happen in a situation when people in hundreds come out to attack security forces during encounters with militants,” she asked while winding up discussion on grants to Home Department in the Legislative Assembly. The footprints and powers of the police and security forces are increasing with the increase in bloodshed and violence in the state, she added.
Mehbooba described Indian army as the “most disciplined force in the world”, saying that “It made sacrifices creating a situation that we all have reached the assembly”.
She also called upon the mainstream political parties to reach out to the people for restoration of peace.
Touching upon the issue of the current crisis in Kashmir, Mehbooba said “all are concerned about the current crisis in Kashmir but a decision taken under the leadership of late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on the states accession with the union of India is final and irrevocable”.
“We have to work for strengthening the decision taken by the popular leader like Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The separatist leaders have taken a different position and I don’t say that they have no role. Separatists have a role but we have to explain the fruitfulness of the accession with India to the people in state”
Saying that self-rule does not seek resolution of Kashmir issue outside the Indian constitution but within the Indian constitution. “I tell you with authority that the Indian constitution is flexible enough to accommodate and adjust the wishes and aspirations of the people of all the three regions of the state. As for as the relations with Pakistan vis-à-vis Kashmir are concerned history is witness to the fact that even after waging three wars and the Kargil conflict India and Pakistan were forced to come to the negotiating table. The Shimla agreement, the Lahore declaration and the Agra summit are testimony to the fact that wars take India Pakistan nowhere but dialogue brings them closer to peace and normalcy”.
Claiming that the only solution for Kashmir resolution with Pakistan is the opening of cross LoC travel and trade routes between the divided parts of Jammu and Kashmir, the chief minister said it is for Pakistan and the central government in Delhi to decide whether they won’t to settle the issue within or outside the constitution but we in the Jammu and Kashmir government stress the central government to persuade Pakistan for opening up of trade and travel routes between all the divided parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Hitting out at separatists, chief minister questioned the growing tendency of separatists to use mosques for political purposes, Mehbooba asked what they are going to achieve by calling for “Udhar Chalo Edhar Chalo”. She said they (Separatists) are pushing youth to violence that leads to their deaths. Sometime, somehow, somewhere they (Separatists) have to explain that how long they can continue to drive youth to violent paths and in the end dialogue is the only option”.
Three civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at civilians in Shopian last Saturday. Subsequently, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had ordered an inquiry into the incident. Police had on Sunday filed an FIR under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) against the personnel of 10-Garhwal unit of the Army. The FIR also names an officer Major, who according to the complaint, led the Army unit which engaged in the incident.
The Army then filed in their response which was appended with the FIR lodged by the J&K Police in connection with three civilian deaths in firing by army personnel.
On Monday, Mehbooba had said that FIR against army will not decrease its moral and there could be some black sheep in the force as well.
Facing angry BJP lawmakers, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti then said her government had taken action against the army only after consulting Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“After the killings I immediately spoke to the defence minister and she was very positive. She told me that I should take action if any carelessness or anything wrong has happened. It’s after that we registered an FIR and ordered a magisterial inquiry,” Mehbooba then said in the assembly.
The chief minister also stressed that action against the guilty would not hurt the morale of the Army and pledged to take the case to a “logical end”.