Srinagar: The time to remove the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) hasn't come, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Wednesday, as the Kashmir Valley observed a shutdown on India's Independence Day.

"Talks on AFSPA are going on. I regret that so far we have not reached a stage when AFSPA can be removed permanently. Talks are still going on, and I am satisfied with these talks," he said."I can say with surety that the revocation of AFSPA will take place during our tenure in office," he said.

I-day Parade

The main Independence Day parade was held at the Bakshi Stadium here amid extensive security arrangements.Abdullah unfurled the national flag and took the salute at the parade in which police contingents, paramilitary forces, fire and emergency services, and school children participated.

He urged the separatists to give up violence and join the dialogue process for the overall development of the state.Neither violence nor development would resolve the Kashmir problem, he said. It needed to be resolved politically.

For that, it was important that all stakeholders joined the process of dialogue and reconciliation, he said.

Referring to his stand on AFSPA, Abdullah said: "To a large extent, militancy related incidents have come down over the years in the state."It is our endeavour to reduce the footprints of the security forces in the state. I can say with pride that all schools have been vacated by the security forces. (250) other buildings occupied by security forces have also been vacated."

More than 40 bunkers have been removed from Srinagar. Perhaps, nobody hoped we could remove the bunker from Lal Chowk. Ten battalions of CRPF have already been de-inducted and sent back.

"We are slowly implementing the rehabilitation of those who want to return (from Pakistan) without guns and the policy is producing encouraging results. This policy is only for those who return not to join militancy but live peacefully," he said.

Independence Day parades and cultural programmes were held in various districts of the Kashmir Valley. Separatists had called a shutdown across the valley.Few public and private vehicles were seen on the city's roads on Wednesday morning. Police and paramilitary forces in full riot gear were deployed in the city.

(Agencies)


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