“The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) should not be politicised. Without AFSPA, the Army cannot function,” said (retd.) Col. Jaibans Singh at a panel discussion on ‘Human Rights and National Security Concerns’ held in Panjab University on Friday.
“If our soldiers are dying, it is a concern for us all. They are not for dying but protecting our nation. AFSPA is the way they can work better in places like Kashmir…” he added. Under AFSPA, the armed forces have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in “disturbed areas”, use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law. If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant, enter or search a premises without a warrant, and ban the possession of firearms.
While deliberating on the current scenario in the Valley, Col. Singh said, “We have bring down the militancy to a bunch of militants in the valley. Earlier, there were thousands of them, but now only few hundreds are left.”
He urged the public to help the youth steer clear of the “destructive path of militancy”.
Col. Singh claimed that madrasas and social media are “platforms of indoctrination” where young minds are instilled with “fanatic ideas that lead them to join militancy”.
“Separatist leaders in Kashmir are violating human rights by giving protest calls that affect the lives of thousands in Kashmir,” he further said.
Col. Singh said many mistakes had been made in the past that were not handled properly. “The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, the Pak refugees were left unaddressed. Nothing has been done to rehabilitate them.”
Justice Jasbir Singh, president of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, said, “We organise candle light marches, celebrate anniversaries but we need to take a pledge to make our nation stronger. We have to complete what our soldiers sacrificed their lives for.”
Professor Dr. Surrinder Shukla, who was also part of the panel, said, “There must be a better collaboration between the military and think tank of the country.”
IAS officer CS Talwar claimed separatist leaders are feeding stone-pelters and militants. “We can uproot violence by hitting the creators of such incidents,” he added.