'Revocation of AFSPA may put peace in J&K at stake'
Lt General KT Parnaik said AFSPA divests huge powers in the Army, but the Indian forces have never misused it.
Udhampur: Insisting that the revocation of AFSPA might put at stake the "fragile" peace existing in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army on Monday said it has given advice to the Centre on the issue and it was for the government to take a call. "It is a measured Act. AFSPA protects our officers and jawans who are faced with unusual situation," General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt General KT Parnaik, told reporters on the occasion of 42nd Raising Day of the Northern Command.
He said the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) divests huge powers in the Army, but the Indian forces have never misused it. "The Army might have got increased powers under the Act, but the ethos of the Army and the drill which we go through train us to have restrain on ourselves. So, to say AFSPA has been misused would not be right. The Army has always used AFSPA in the right way," the General said.
"With the use of AFSPA, the situation has remained peaceful for over last couple of years. If AFSPA would have been so draconian, the situation would not have become so peaceful," he said. The General said the existing situation in the state may change if breathing space is provided to militants.
"We need to consolidate our position. The peace which you see, as I had mentioned earlier, is very fragile. It might get disrupted with a couple of triggers from the militants. So, we need to control the situation," he said. On partial revocation of the Act, Parnaik, who is going to retire at the end of this month, said there was a possibility that militants might use it to their advantage.
Parnaik said, "If AFSPA is revoked partially, there is a possibility that militants might use it to their advantage. They may use the areas from where the Act has been removed as place to regroup. "I am not saying they may carry out terrorist operations in those places, but they can use the area to launch attacks at some other place," he said.
The General insisted that if administration wants to strengthen peace in the state, it will have to take control of terrorist funding and the use of cyber space by them. "We have to also put a check on the radicalisation of people besides tackling residual terrorists, who are operating in the state. If we manage to succeed in all this, the situation will be much better," he said. Parnaik said, "We have provided our professional advice to the Centre, now it is for them to decide whether to remove AFSPA or not."
However, noting that general elections and Assembly elections in the state are due next year and in view of the terror infrastructure that exists in the neighbouring country, the General said, "It is important to keep the situation under control." On infiltration bids made by terrorists across the border, particularly during the upcoming monsoon season when rivulets are filled with water and it becomes difficult for Army to maintain a strict vigil, the General said the situation will be tough for both sides.
"It will be tough for our forces, but even they will have to face problems," he said, adding that they have got ways to keep vigil on any movement along the fence.