The chief minister has triggered a controversy by his statements on Armed forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The home minister has backed his statement. However, the Defence Ministry, it seems has some reservations. While the controversy deepens with every passing day, Omar has entrusted the job of doing the talking on the controversial legislation to his uncle and newly appointed spokesperson of National Conference, Dr Mustafa Kamal.
Kamal has accused New Delhi and the armed forces of sabotaging `revocation of AFSPA’. However, he has not uttered a word on coalition government’s failure to bring the erring policemen to justice. While everybody seems interested in revocation of AFSPA, the impunity enjoyed by police evokes no reaction.
The legislation, experts opine can be repealed by the state government. New Delhi has no role to play in it. This is what the former Union Home Secretary, G K Pillai has said. According to him repeal of Disturbed Area Act could be ensured by a “notification of the state government not a state notification by Central Government."
Pillai has made it amply clear that the state government had the authority to de-notify an area (as disturbed). And once this is done, Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will cease to be applicable there.
The Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, has got tough over Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). But why is the chief minister, who also happens to be the home minister of the State silent over violations by the state police?
By seeking repeal or amendment of the AFSPA, Omar Abdullah basically wants to bring erring soldiers of the Army and Para-military forces to justice. Section 6 of the Act makes it mandatory for the government to seek sanction to prosecution from New Delhi for initiating criminal proceedings against a soldier involved in crimes.
The state government has sought sanction to prosecution in hundreds of cases since inception of militancy. However, sanction has not been accorded in a single case till date. Soldiers involved in killing innocent people in fake encounters for reward have escaped penal action because of AFSPA.
But for bringing the erring police men of the state force to justice, the state government need not seek sanction from New Delhi. The AFSPA does not apply to the state police. However, sanction under CrPC has to be sought from the concerned ministry (Home Ministry).
Omar Abdullah has the distinction of holding the home portfolio as well. His reluctance to bring the police men to justice only exposes his tall claims of seeking justice for the people. On May 28 last year, a police officer shot dead three youth in Anchidoora, Islamabad in cold blood. Scores of persons saw him pumping the fatal bullets into the bodies of the slain youth. This incident should have shaken the home minister of the state. But every possible step was taken to hush up the case. The FIR filed by the police blames unidentified gunmen for the killing.
A police man shot dead a 25-year-old girl at Lachmanpora, Batmaloo on July 5, 2010. A youth saw him firing the deadly shot. The body of the girl was taken for autopsy. The police tried to persuade the people accompanying the body to put the blame on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men. Interestingly, there were no CRPF men posted in the area on that day. The state government did not order the killer constable’s arrest as demanded by the people.
The government must get credit for putting a BSF commandant and a soldier on trial in Zahid Farooq’s case. But the police officer who smashed the head of 17-year-old Wamiq Farooq on January 31, 2010 near Bohri Kadal (Down Town) Srinagar has been exonerated of criminal liability.
According to Pillai, Omar led government can issue a notification to revoke disturbed Area Act. Once this is done, the AFSPA enforcement will automatically come to an end. However, the coalition government cannot afford to issue such a notification for obvious reasons. But he is the person who can take, rather has to take erring police men to justice. Until that is done, Omar will be accused of nurturing double standards.
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