The campaign for revocation of AFSPA has given some uncomfortable moments to the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah. He has been time and again opposed by the Army Chief, the Local Corpse Commander and the Defence Ministry. At times the Home Ministry has also expressed reservations about Omar’s campaign.
While people, by and large, still believe that the state government could revoke the draconian law on its own, the chief minister is playing safe. He does not want to annoy anybody for obvious reasons. National Conference President Farooq Abdullah and CM’s father has advised Omar not to take cudgels with New Delhi and he has been following the counsel like a good boy.
While the campaign continued, Omar gave nod for the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), a centrally controlled arrangement to fight terror. The four members of NC in the Lok Sabha voted along with the government in support of NCTC even as a major UPA component Trinamool Congress walked out in protest against the order.
The NC support to the new mechanism evoked severe reaction from various quarters. While some quarters accuse it of yet another betrayal, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President, Mehbooba Mufti said the party that had hoodwinked the people in the name of plebiscite and autonomy for more than six decades had once again come out in its true colours by supporting a measure that further erodes the authority of the states. NCTC will have powers to arrest anyone anywhere without taking state government into confidence on suspicion of involvement in terror or conduct searches and seizures. Pertinently the new mechanism is opposed by ten chief ministers of the country and many political parties.
The chief minister, political experts opine, is involved in a balancing act. He wants to convey the message that his campaign for revocation of AFSPA notwithstanding, he has extended support to the NCTC.
Omar has also been talking about the Truth and Reconciliatory Commission (TRC). This also is a balancing act. While Omar wants AFSPA to go for political reasons, he ensures that impunity stays there to shield the culprits involved in heinous crimes. He has won many admirers for his stand on AFSPA. However, knowledgeable quarters have criticized Omar for his contradictory views. According to them, Omar wants impunity under AFSPA to go but by talking about Truth and Reconciliatory Commission, he actually intends to confer impunity to the perpetrators in a refined form.
The chief minister has been talking about TRC for the past two years. When the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) shocked the government by its recommendations on unmarked and mass graves, Omar again talked about TRC.
What does a reconciliatory commission mean by the way? Reconciliation means forgetting the past and forgiving the perpetrator. Isn’t this impunity? Instead of seeking TRC, Omar can punish many a perpetrator without consulting New Delhi. Omar has always accused New Delhi of shielding the men in uniform through Section 6 AFSPA. But AFSPA is not applicable to the Jammu Kashmir Police. The police men involved in custodial killings and other offences can be brought to justice if Omar gives consent. New Delhi has no role to play in it.
And, for the information of the chief minister, many people were killed by the local police since January 31, 2010. New Delhi did not interfere when BSF commandant and one of his soldiers were put on trial for killing a youth near Nishat on February 5 last year. Blaming New Delhi every time cannot be justified by any means. If Omar is interested in getting justice to the people, let him punish the erring police officials first. If this happens, New Delhi will be forced to give sanction to prosecute erring army men.
The solution, therefore, does not lie in highly charged political speeches or engaging some irrelevant writers to erase the memory of the sufferers. The solution lies in administration of justice. Without looking at New Delhi, Omar can start administering justice. But can he do it?
For the time being, Omar cannot do it. And if he continues to listen to his father, he may never be able to do it. In the process of balancing things, Omar is sure to get imbalanced.
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