March 20, 2015 1:35:30 am
Nearly three months after being voted out of power in Jammu and Kashmir, former chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday said the power to lift the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) vests in the state cabinet and he could not begin the process during his six-year rule for want of support from his coalition partner Congress.
Omar, who during his tenure had repeatedly taken up the issue with the then UPA government at the Centre, said this while taking a jibe at the PDP for joining hands with BJP to form the government, abandoning its agenda and ignoring the aspirations of the people.
Referring to the Governor’s address about the coalition government examining the need for de-notifying disturbed areas to enable the central government take a final view on continuation of AFSPA there, Omar said in the assembly, “What central government you are taking of? You are empowered. Your cabinet is empowered to take a final call on it. If you really have got some concession from them (BJP), then get the cabinet to pass a resolution for lifting of AFSPA from certain areas and send it to the Governor for approval.”
“What I could not do in my tenure, you do it,” he said. “I tried a lot that withdrawal of AFSPA begins during my tenure. I regret that I could not do it, but it is no hidden fact that I made an effort and I have at least the satisfaction of taking the initiative.”
Pointing out that the state cabinet headed by Farooq Abdullah had decided to extend AFSPA to all parts of the state, except Leh and Kargil districts, and sent the resolution to the Governor for approval, he said, “If this was the way to impose it, it has to be lifted from the state in the same way. If you really want to lift it (AFSPA), start doing it in the reverse order. Bring a resolution in the cabinet… after getting its approval send it to the Governor for his consent,” he said.
“However, the powers which were vested in you (state government) and your cabinet, you have surrendered to Delhi,” Omar said.
Taking a jibe at the PDP’s claims of securing assurances from BJP on state’s special status and its reconciliation process by involving Pakistan and even Hurriyat in talks for resolution of Kashmir issue, he accused it of abandoning its agenda and ignoring the people for power.
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