Centre to consider revoking AFSPA, plans to pull back troops from J&K in place: Amit Shah

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said the central government will consider revoking Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Jammu and Kashmir.

In an interview with the JK Media Group, Shah also said the government has plans to pull back troops in the Union Territory (UT) and leave law and order to the Jammu and Kashmir Police alone.

“We have plans to pull back troops and leave law and order to the Jammu and Kashmir Police alone. Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir police was not trusted but today they are leading the operations,” he said.

On the controversial AFSPA, the home minister said, “We will also think of revoking AFSPA.”

The AFSPA gives the armed forces personnel, operating in the disturbed areas, sweeping powers to search, arrest and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”.

An area or district is notified as disturbed under the AFSPA to facilitate the operations of the armed forces.

Shah had earlier said the AFSPA has been removed in 70 per cent areas in the northeastern states even though it is in force in J-K.

There have been demands from various organisations and individuals in J-K and the northeastern states to revoke the AFSPA.

Shah said the assembly elections will be held in J-K before September.

“Enshrining democracy in Jammu and Kashmir is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise and it will be fulfilled. However, this democracy will not be confined to three families alone and will be a people’s democracy,” he said.

The Supreme Court had directed to conduct the assembly polls in the UT before September.

On the issues that have emerged around the reservation of SCs, STs and OBCs, Shah said for the first time, the OBCs of J-K have been given reservation by the Modi government and women have been given one-third reservation.

“OBC reservations have been made in the panchayat and the urban local bodies. We have made space for the SCs and the STs. Without reducing the share of the Gujjar and Bakarwals, the Pahadis have been given 10 per cent reservation. And special provisions have been made to accommodate the displaced people from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” he said.

The Centre is determined to ensure that these benefits percolate to the grassroots level, he said.

Shah claimed that National Conference (NC) leader Farooq Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti tried their best to create acrimony on these reservations but the people have understood their intentions now.

He asked why the NC did not give reservation to these people in the last over 75 years.

The home minister claimed Abdullah had left for England when terrorism was at its peak. Both Abdullah and Mehbooba have no right to speak about on the issue, he added.

“The number of fake encounters that took place during their time has never been matched by any other regime,” he said.

Shah said in the last five years, not a single fake encounter has taken place. Rather the FIRs have been lodged against the people involved in fake encounters, he added.

“We will have a dialogue with the youths of Kashmir and not with the organisations that have roots in Pakistan. They are responsible for the deaths of 40,000 youths,” he said.

He said the Modi government has banned 12 organisations for their involvement in terror activities, designated 36 individuals as terrorists, registered more than 22 cases to stop terror finance and seized properties worth Rs 150 crore.

As many as 90 properties were also attached and 134 bank accounts have been frozen, he said.

“We have enshrined peace, and peace cannot be bought. Whoever wants to have a dialogue has to do so within the ambit of the Constitution,” he said.

Shah said the Hurriyat Conference has no place in the process of dialogue. He also made it clear that the BJP and the entire Parliament believe that the POK is an integral part of India.

“The Muslim brothers are also Indians and the Hindu brothers living in POK are also Indians and the land which has been illegally occupied by Pakistan also belongs to India. It is the goal of every Indian, every Kashmiri to get it back,” he said.

The home minister said in 2010, there were 2564 incidents of stone-pelting which now is zero.

From 2004 to 2014, there were 7217 terror incidents. That has reduced to 2227 from 2014 to 2023, and this is almost a 70 per cent reduction, he said.

Shah said the total number of deaths from 2004 to 2014 was 2829 and it has come down to 915 during 2014-23, which is a 68 per cent decrease.

The deaths of civilians was 1770 and has decreased to 341, which is an 81 per cent drop. The deaths of security forces decreased from 1060 to 574, which is a 46 per cent decrease, he said.

The senior BJP leader said without the support of the people, such a comprehensive change can never take place.

“The people who talk about Islam should know that 85 per cent of the deceased were our Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said.

Shah also asked the youths of J-K to stay away from the conspiracies of Pakistan.

“Today Pakistan is shrouded by the scourge of hunger and poverty and even people there see Kashmir as heaven. I want to tell everyone that if anyone can save Kashmir, he is Prime Minister Modi,” he said.

The home minister said the Modi government is boosting the morale of the security forces by giving jobs to the family members of the martyrs.

“Today, not a single martyr’s family is left without a job,” he said.–(PTI)

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