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Can JK Go Imphal Way On AFSPA?

SRINAGAR, Oct 17: Can’t a constitutionally ‘powerful’ state like Jammu and Kashmir revoke Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain parts as the Manipur government did? The question arises as the state and central government are passing the buck for the past over three months on the debate for symbolic revocation of the Act, as one of the confidence building measures in the valley in the wake of prevailing unrest.

The North-eastern state of Manipur, withdrew AFSPA (1958) from the Imphal city, without taking central government into confidence after massive protests over alleged human rights violations in 2004.

After taking decision on AFSPA in the cabinet meet, Manipur Home Department issued a notification withdrawing Disturbed Area status to make the act ineffective from limits of Imphal city comprising of seven assembly segments. The centre too did not re-impose the Act in these areas.

To diffuse the crisis in the valley in the wake of killing of over 100 youth, the state government also proposed lifting of AFPSA from few districts including Srinagar and Jammu and passed the onus to the central government. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met several times over the issue, but failed to arrive at consensus due to strong opposition from defense ministry and right-wing BJP.

With CCS eluding agreement over the issue, the Central government proposed the state government to review the notification of areas as ‘disturbed areas’ under the eight-point package announced by the Union Home Minister.

Accordingly, the Unified Headquarters, which met here under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah formed two separate panels, each for Jammu and Srinagar to review the Disturbed Areas.

Legal experts opine that state government has the power to render AFPSA ineffective, without taking central government on board.

‘The state can also render the Act redundant by withdrawing two notifications issued by state Home Department .They can ask the Governor to repeal the notifications and this needs political will,’ says senior counsel and former President High Court Bar Association, advocate Zaffar A Shah.

According to both central legislations, AFPSA-1958 and AF (JK) SPA-1990, the areas to be brought under the purview of the Act have to be declared as ‘Disturbed Areas’ either by Governor or the state Government.

After enacting of Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act in 1990, the state government issued two notifications in 1990 and 2001, to declare valley and Jammu provinces as disturbed areas.

The then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) issued a notification vide order number SRO-SW4 dated 6-7-1990 declaring the Kashmir valley and parts of Rajouri and Poonch district as disturbed.

The notification reads that the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in exercise of powers conferred to him under section 3 of the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Ordinance 1990 notified all districts Islamabad, Budgam, Varmul, Kupwara, Srinagar  and areas falling within 20 kms of Line of Control in Rajouri and Poonch as ‘Disturbed’.

Another order to notify Jammu region as disturbed was issued by then Principal Secretary Home vide order number 219/97-ISA dated 10-8-2001.

The notification declared districts of Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Poonch, Rajouri and Doda as disturbed areas to facilitate the imposition of AFPSA there.

*Reportd by Umer Maqbool Dar


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