CCS to Discuss Kashmir, AFPSA on Sep 13

New Delhi
CCS to Discuss Kashmir, AFPSA on Sep 13
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) will meet on Monday to discuss measures like partial withdrawal of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) for breaking the impasse in Jammu and Kashmir but today's sudden flare up of violence in Srinagar appeared to put Government in a spot.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who conferred with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, his Cabinet colleagues and senior party leaders in the Congress Core Group yesterday, has convened the meeting to discuss the situation and consider options.

The meeting comes amid indications that the government could announce some initiatives to end the three-month-long cycle of violence in the valley.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been pressing the Centre to withdraw the AFSPA from some areas of the state and announce some political initiatives.

Omar, who arrived here today, said he was working with the Centre on how to try and keep the confidence of the people while working out solutions and to keep the process alive.

But, genuine questions would arise on how the process could be carried forward if violence continues, he said, adding it is a "chicken and egg situation--what comes first".

Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq while asking the Centre to change its Kashmir policy said "half-hearted steps" like partial withdrawal of the AFSPA would not help in improving the situation in the Valley.

In his Eid-ul-Fitr sermon at Eidgah in Srinagar,he said economic and job packages are not a solution to the Kashmir issue as the people of the state have given sacrifices for the "right to self determination".

Faced with tough choices, the central government is treading a cautious path over the issue which has created divisions within it.

The government is faced with strong resistance from the Defence Ministry as well as the Army for even a partial withdrawal of the AFSPA or any other kind of dilution in the controversial act which gives sweeping powers to security forces.

The BJP also is strongly opposed to any dilution to the AFSPA.

The Congress Core Group discussed the demand for withdrawal of AFSPA from some areas in Jammu and yesterday but was divided on the issue.

Defence Minister A K Antony and Home Minister P Chidambaram aired divergent views on the demands on AFSPA withdrawal at the meeting which was also attended by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress President's political secretary Ahmed Patel.

Prithviraj Chavan, AICC in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, and senior party leaders from the state Ghulam Nabi Azad and Saifuddin Soz, who are not part of the Core Group, also attended the meeting.

Antony highlighted the security establishment's fears and opposed any decision to even partially withdraw AFSPA while Chidambaram is understood to have emphasised the need for some political action to break the impasse in the Valley.

A majority section in the government is of the view that AFSPA has no link to the spate of stone-pelting and there is no guarantee that such incidents would end if the controversial act was withdrawn from the state.
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