Political Leadership to Decide on Revoking AFSPA: Army Chief

Chennai, Sep 18 (IANS) Indian Army Chief, General V.K. Singh, Saturday said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the army legal immunity for their actions, is only an enabling law and not an arbitrary one and the political leadership will decide on whether to revoke it in Kashmir.

Speaking to reporters here after witnessing the passing out parade at the Officers' Training Academy, the army chief said in reply to a question: "The government will take a correct decision on what is to be done."

He said the army has given its views to the Ministry of Defence and the matter is under the government's consideration.

According to General Singh, it is the political leadership that has to take a decision on revoking the law in Jammu and Kashmir and not the army.

He also said the Supreme Court has said the AFSPA provisions are not arbitrary or against the Indian Constitution.

The issue is under consideration of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he added.

The army chief said there has been a spike in infiltration attempts in Jammu and Kashmir in the last two months and an increase in the number of terrorists killed.

According to Gen. Singh, Pakistan might take advantage of the unrest in Kashmir and there could be a link between the increased incidences of infiltration attempts and the unrest.

A large section of the political leaders and the separatists in Kashmir are demanding revocation of the AFSPA. More than 90 people have been killed in clashes with security forces in 100 days of unrest in Kashmir.

Gen Singh's comments come days after Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik voiced his reservations on withdrawal of the act in Kashmir, saying that soldiers needed legal protection. "Soldiers while involved in performing their duty need legal protection if you want them to be efficient," he said on Sep 14.

The AFSPA gives army officers legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against any officer acting under the act. Nor is the government's judgment on why an area is found to be "disturbed" subject to judicial review.


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Title: Political Leadership to Decide on Revoking AFSPA: Army Chief

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