New Delhi: A debate may be raging now on withdrawing the AFSPA, but the Centre has been working with the Jammu and Kashmir government to review the notification of the Disturbed Areas Act in some areas to enable the revocation of the law that gives special powers to armed forces.

Official sources said the announcement of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and the Disturbed Areas Act will be revoked from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir soon was in accordance with the September 25, 2010 decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security.

The CCS, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had last year taken eight decisions including appointment of a group of interlocutors to begin the process of a sustained dialogue with all sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

It also decided to "request the state government to immediately convene a meeting of the Unified Command and to review the deployment of security forces in the Kashmir Valley, especially Srinagar, with particular reference to de-scaling the number of bunkers, check-points etc in Srinagar and other towns, and to review the notification of areas as 'disturbed areas'.

"The announcement of the Chief Minister was part of that decision of the CCS. The political leadership will now have to take a final view," a source said.

The interlocutors have already submitted its report to the government last month after their year-long deliberations.

The other decisions of the CCS were to advise the state government to immediately release all students and youth detained or arrested for stone pelting or similar violations of law and to withdraw the charges against such students and youth.

Withdrawal of AFSPA could help extremists: BJP

The BJP opposed withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, saying such a step could help extremists who are "caught in crossfire" in Pakistan.

"The BJP is of the opinion that any dilution of the AFSPA or any attempt to nullify it would be a setback to the process initiated to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters.

"We would appeal to the Union Government not to buckle under pressures or politics of appeasement," he said.

Rudy praised the armed forces, the state police and the central paramilitary forces for playing "an exemplary role" in fighting terror in Jammu and Kashmir and other places.

"In 2001 we had witnessed more than 4000 killings including of civilians, security personnel and terrorists. In 2011, it has come down to 400. It is a remarkable achievement by the armed forces, the state police as well as the central paramilitary forces," he BJP spokesperson said.

"Any attempt (to withdraw AFSPA) would nullify the achievement made so far. This debate is uncalled for," Rudy said.

"We should also take a cue from the statement made by the US Secretary of State that there are snakes in the backyard of
Pakistan," Rudy told reporters.

"Recently there was liquidation of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Pakistan and such elements in Pakistan are looking out for an opening as they are under crossfire today," Rudy said.

Imprudent to lift AFSPA for political reasons: Jaitley

New Delhi: Batting for continuation of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir, BJP leader Arun Jaitley  said when the security forces are in favour of retention of the law, it would be "highly imprudent" to argue for its withdrawal on
political considerations.

"It would, therefore, be politically more prudent for the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (Omar Abdullah) not to initiate a debate at a stage when circumstances still warrant the continuation of the operation of the law (Armed forces Special Powers Act)," Jaitley said.

 He said one hopes that a situation does emerge in future that the applicability of this law is either not necessary or is restricted only to some areas.

"That situation does not seem to have arrived as yet. The withdrawal of this law would leave the administration of the unprotected districts only in the hands of the local police and thus incentivizing the separatist and violent groups to increase their activities in these areas," he said in an article put on BJP website.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said in case the protection provided by central para military forces and the Army is withdrawn, it would empower various vested interests to prosecute officials of these forces indiscriminately.

"Obviously, this would disincentivise personnel of these forces from taking adequate steps against separatist groups," he said adding when security forces are in favour of retention of this law, "it would be highly imprudent to allow anyone to seriously argue that political considerations require that
this law be withdrawn or its enforcement be restricted only to certain areas."

Jaitley maintained that if the local police alone can maintain law and order in the state, the declaration of that area as a disturbed area would not be necessary.

"The decision thus to continue the state or a part of the state as a disturbed area or otherwise has to be taken on security considerations and not political considerations," he said.

The BJP leader said the only protection provided to the armed forces is that before any prosecution, prior sanction of the central government would be necessary.

"When I had visited the state last year as a part of an all-party delegation, I was informed by the officers of the para military forces that more than 2500 applications for prosecuting personnel of armed forces were pending with the central government," he recalled.

Cong backs Mohan Prakash's remarks


New Delhi: Congress stood behind its state-incharge for Jammu and Kashmir Mohan Prakash on the controversy over Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's move to revoke AFSPA in some areas of the state which evoked a strong reaction from the party's state cheif Saif-ud-din Soz.

"This is an issue which has to be decided in consultation with all stakeholders and certainly that includes the Army, central government, the ruling coalition and the state government and others. The view expressed by the AICC incharge for the state, who commented on Soz's view is that of
Congress," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.

His comments came a day after the ruling coalition partners in Jammu and Kashmir sparred over Omar's move to revoke AFSPA in some areas with Soz alleging he is not consulting all stakeholders including the Army.

In a crisp response to Soz's charge, Omar had said he was well aware of his "responsibilities", asserting that he would not have made the move in "isolation."

Referring to allegations of lack of consultation by Omar with Congress, Mohan Prakash had said on Thursday that there was a need for "better coordination" between the two coalitions partners but refrained from giving any view on the measure.

"If the PCC President has said something, there must be a reason behind it. We also feel that there is a need for better coordination between the two coalition partners (National Conference and Congress) there," he said.

Singhvi said there was no need for the party to add or substract to it after the PCC chief and the state in-charge have already spoken on the issue.

(Agencies)