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  India   All India  29 Jan 2018  Time hasn’t come for AFSPA rethink, says Army chief

Time hasn’t come for AFSPA rethink, says Army chief

Published : Jan 29, 2018, 12:55 am IST
Updated : Jan 29, 2018, 12:55 am IST

Act remains a thorny issue in J&K, Northeast.

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat (Photo: PTI)
 Army Chief General Bipin Rawat (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: In a sign that the hard stance against militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and insurgency in the Northeast region will continue, Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat has said that the time is not yet ripe for a rethink towards dilution of the stringent provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Asked if the government was affording a softer policy by watering down AFSPA provisions, Gen. Rawat told a news agency in a recent interview: “I do not think time has come to even rethink on AFSPA at the moment.”

The act gives the security forces special rights and immunity in carrying out various operations in disturbed areas. There has been a long-standing demand from various quarters in J&K and the Northeast to withdraw the law or at least dilute it.

The Army Chief’s remarks assume significance as they come in the backdrop of reports that several rounds of high-level discussions have taken place between the defence and home ministries on the need for a change.

Asserting that the Army has been taking adequate precautions in protecting human rights while operating in disturbed areas, Gen Rawat said the Army is concerned about collateral damages and ensuring that its operations under the law do not inconvenience the local people. “We have never been strong in applying the force the way it could be applied (under AFSPA). We are very concerned about human rights. We are absolutely concerned about collateral damage. So do not get too much concerned because we are taking adequate measures and precautions,” he said.

“The AFSPA is an enabling provision which allows the Army in particular to operate in such difficult areas and let me assure you that the Army has got quite a good human rights record,” he added.

To question on whether there was room for synergy among external and internal intelligence gathering to effectively contain cross border terrorism in J&K, he said the armed forces and all other agencies have been operating in unison.

For more than a year, in a major shift in the counter insurgency tactics to toughen the rules of engagement in Kashmir, the Army has operated in a “seek and engage” mode and brought back the cordon and search operations (CASO) operations that were abandoned in 2002 after a public hue and cry over rights violations.


Tags: north east, bipin rawat, j&k, afspa