Monday, June 14, 2010

AFSPA is ‘holy book’ for troops: Army

Srinagar, June 14: Describing Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as a holy book for the armed forces, a senior army officer has defended the act and opposed its dilution or scrapping."I would like to say that the provisions of AFSPA are very pious to me and I think to entire Indian Army. We have religious books, there are certain guidelines which are given there, but all the members of the religion do not follow it, they break it also, does it imply that you remove the religious book or you remove this chap,” Northern Army Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal was quoted as having said by NDTV.Referring to misuse of AFSPA, he said, “My take on it is to find someone guilty, take him to task but don't touch this pious document or provision of the Act giving the similarity to religious book”.Senior Army officials have been claiming that armed forces cannot operate without AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir or in the Northeast. “We won’t be able to launch proactive operations, won’t be able to use force except in self-defence and won’t have powers to destroy ammunition dumps and IEDs,” they have been claiming.The separatist leaders, opposition PDP and human rights activists have been demanding its scrapping as the Act gives excessive powers to the soldiers. The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has also said in recent past that there is a need to revoke the Act since it is prone to abuse.In its detailed reasoning to the government, the Army while defending AFSPA has said the legislators does not put the soldier above the law but places him under a different set of laws because he operates in different circumstances.“Sorry for saying this, lot of clichés get used in describing the Army, the circumstances under which Army functions is not known to people, that's why I said we want to feel the heat be say that he is jury at that stage and he is the hangman, that jawan, I think we are stretching things a bit too far,” said Lt Gen Jaswal. General V K Singh, who took over as Army chief in April, has declared that “any dilution” in AFSPA will “impinge adversely on the manner in which armed forces operate” in counter-insurgency duties.

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