New Delhi: Home Minister P Chidambaram found nothing wrong with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's move to remove Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) but felt the Congress demand for more consultations on the issue was "perfectly understandable".

The Centre expected Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to come back after state Cabinet review, he said maintaining that the review of application of AFSPA in the state was part of an eight-point agenda of programme decided by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) last year for restoration of normalcy in the state.

There was "nothing unusual or new" if the Chief Minister of the state wants to quicken the process of review of AFSPA, Chidambaram told reporters, adding there was nothing wrong
with that.

However, he said, if Congress, an ally of the coalition government in the state, desired "more consultations" that was perfectly understandable. There could be more consultations in the Cabinet too. In a democracy, we can have consultations any number of times, he said.

He said the process of review of is a CCS decision and this is not something unusual. "Let the Chief Minister come back to us after conducting a review.  This is a CCS decision and I am part of the CCS," he said.

After the Chief Minister's recent announcement on the government's keenness to partially withdraw AFSPA from some areas of the state, J&K PCC Chief Saif-ud-din Soz has complained that Omar Abdullah has not consulted his party.

However, another state Congress Minister Taj Mohiuddin had said that he had been consulted.

HomeMin examining interlocutors' report

The report submitted by the Centre's interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir is being examined by the Union Home Ministry and a decision on its recommendations would be taken in consultation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said Chidambaram here on Monday.

The Home Minister said the interlocutors' report had been received on October 12, adding "We are examining the report. Once the examination is completed, then I will report to the Prime Minister and then we will take a decision."

The interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir comprising noted journalist Dilip Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M M Ansari, had submitted their report to Chidambaram which touched on a variety of issues including the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act confronting the State.

It was expected that an All Party Meeting would be called to discuss the report of the interlocutors.

Indian forces capable of defending borders

Indian forces are capable of defending the borders and foil any design of foreign powers, said Home Minister P Chidambaram at a press conference here.

"I can't answer questions on external security. But I am pretty certain in my mind that our security forces are more than capable of defending India's border," he said, while responding to questions on a report which suggested that China could do a Kargil on India "to teach India a lesson".

The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses(IDSA) said in its report that the lower end of the conflict (between India and China) at this level could be a Kargil-like situation.

Referring to Bangladesh, Chidambaram said the India's eastern neighbour has extended "splendid cooperation" in apprehending Indian insurgents.

"If there are any terrorist group in Bangladesh, I am sure the Bangladesh government will act against them. We are in discussion with Bangladesh regarding the Indian insurgent groups taking shelter in Bangladesh," he said.

NIA not to oppose bail of Malegaon accused

In a decision that could come as an embarrassment to Maharashtra's Anti Terror Squad, Chidambaram announced that NIA will not oppose the bail pleas of the nine accused arrested by the police in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blast case.

"As far as the NIA is concerned, which is in-charge of investigating the case, they are not opposing the bail. Whether the bail will be granted or not, it is not for me to say. It is for the court to say," Chidambaram said after presenting his ministry's monthly report card.

All the nine are languishing in Arthur Road prison since their arrest in 2006.

Asked whether the move not to oppose the bail meant that the nine people arrested by the ATS were innocent, Chidambaram said "no, until any other person who is involved is actually found and chargesheeted, and until the old chargesheet is revised, we can't come to any conclusion one way or the other."

"But since there is a confession and investigation is in progress in some areas, in some other directions, the NIA has concluded that it is no longer necessary to keep them in
judicial custody and, therefore, the NIA will not oppose the bail. But the decision is not of NIA, the decision will be court's decision," he said.

The probe by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) has indicated that the ATS of Maharashtra police and the CBI allegedly acted in undue haste in filing chargesheet against
the accused, official sources said.

While NIA is looking into a possible Hindu terror link following a confession by Swami Aseemanand before a Magistrate during the CBI custody, it was not immediately clear whether the agency would investigate the role of police officers who are alleged to have framed the nine Muslim youth arrested for allegedly orchestrating the blast.

ATS, which was initially investigating the blast that killed 36 persons, had arrested nine Muslim youth for carrying out the blasts.

However, according to the NIA, the main accused Mohammed Zahid was allegedly present in Malegaon when the blast took place contrary to claims of ATS which alleged that Zahid was involved in the activities of the banned SIMI group.

The Central agency got eyewitnesses to testify that Zahid was leading the Friday prayers in a village, 700 kms from Malegaon, on the day of the explosions.

The entire ATS investigation went into a tail-spin after the confession of Aseemanand before a Magistrate in which he claimed that the Malegaon 2006 attack was carried out by Hindu
extremist groups.

Decision on probe into Mumbai blasts soon

Chidambaram hinted at displeasure over the delay in making a breakthrough in the investigations into July 13 Mumbai blasts, saying a view will soon be taken on what to do with the probe. He said there were several leads but no conclusive evidence against any accused.

"We would have to take a view on what we would do with Mumbai investigations. Since July 13, it is now quite a lot of time. We are concerned," he said at a press conference when asked about the progress of probe into the multiple blasts in the metropolis.

The Home Minister said he has not spoken to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prthiviraj Chavan in the last few days but would talk to him soon on the issue.

The Maharashtra ATS and the Mumbai Police Crime Branch are probing the case.

Twenty-four people were killed when bombs exploded in three places in Mumbai on July 13, 2011.

Absconders hold key to Delhi HC blast

The probe into Delhi High Court blast seems to have come to a dead end as Chidambaram on Monday suggested that the three Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, declared as absconders, hold the key to the entire conspiracy hatched in the case.

Talking to reporters here after presenting his Ministry's monthly report card for October, Chidambaram was asked whether the case had been solved after the arrest of the three people including a medical student Wasim Akram and two others.

"Whether the case has been solved or not, is a matter of opinion. The fact is that three key persons have been arrested and they have pointed to three other persons.”

"We have put out a reward for these three persons and all the agencies are looking for these three persons. Only when these three are arrested, interrogated and their statements
are recorded, the agency will be in a position to say whether the case has been solved or not," he said and added that at the moment "we are looking for the three persons."

NIA recently announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh each for any information leading to arrest of Junaid Akram, brother of Wasim, Amir Ali and Sheikh Hussain Sheikh, all belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen terror outfit as the probe agency believes that all the three played "crucial role in the conspiracy which led to the blast at the Delhi High Court" on September
seven in which 15 people were killed.

Besides Wasim Akram, NIA has arrested Abid Hussain and Hafiz Aamir Abbas Dev and also recorded their confessional statements before a magistrate recently. The three are alleged
to have been be involved in sending emails immediately after the blast outside the High Court.

Manipur groups asked to withdraw blockade

Home Minister appealed to the agitating groups in Manipur to withdraw their over three-month-old blockade of national highways and assured action on the report of the District Reorganisation Commission (DRC).

"My appeal to all groups, especially the Kuki groups and other groups agitating for a separate district to be curved out of Jiribam, that they should suspend their agitation and allow the DRC to look into the matter and give its report," he told reporters here.

Chidambaram assured all groups that the Central government would certainly urge the Manipur government to act on the report of the DRC, once it is made available.

He said the blockade on national Highway 37 has entered the 92nd day today and Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh has appointed the DRC and has requested both Kukis, who want a separate district for Sadar Hills, and the Meiti groups, who want a separate district out of Jiribam, that they should wait for the DRC's report.

Chidambaram said both sides were unwilling to budge from their positions and despite the blockade, the government of Manipur with the assistance of the Centre, has been able to ply on an average 1,100 trucks with supplies every week to Manipur.

The Chief Minister has done the best possible thing under the circumstances mainly to appoint a DRC and its report is expected in next few months, he said.

The Sadar Hills District Demand Committee launched the economic blockade on Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati National Highway and the Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar since August 1 demanding conversion of the Kuki-majority Sadar hills area in Naga-majority Senapati district into a full-fledged district.

On the other hand, United Naga Committee, opposing the Kukis' demand for granting district status to Sadar Hills, launched a counter-economic blockade on the same two national highways on August 21.

(JPN/Agencies)