Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah has indicated that the much hated security laws The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) will be relaxed in various parts of the Valley.
These laws have been termed as widely hated laws and the relaxation of these laws have evoked mixed reactions. What the administration in Jammu and Kashmir feels is that this could win the hearts of the public and there would be peace in Kashmir. While this is one part of the argument there is also the fear that this could be largely misused by our not so friendly neighbours who could pump up the infiltration.
C D Sahay, former RAW Chief feels that this is a good step and the Kashmir process could move forward due to such a move. There are key irritants in Kashmir which the Chief Minister wanted to remove and he seems to have the support of the government of India in such a move.
Why I would say this is a step forward is because there will be some accountability now. Each time a person goes missing one cannot put a militant tag on him and end the matter. However one needs to determine very critically is whether the problem in Kashmir today is as bad as what it used to be 10 years back.
I am sure that the Chief Minister has an idea of the situation over there. Law and order remains a state subject and if the government in the Valley is confident that the army can secure the border and prevent infiltration then it is a step taken in the right direction.
When I spoke about critical analysis of the situation I meant we must take into account various aspects. Is Pakistan down and out at the moment? I can say with confidence that the Hizbul Mujahideen is down and out today. They have people but the question is whether they have the capacity to keep infiltrating. I recollect that a couple of years back they used to infiltrate at least 3000 people every year and today it is a trickle. This would show that they are down. However we also need to look at the capabilities of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba who according to me are still very strong. All these aspects need to be analysed.
I personally am in favour of the relaxations of these laws. However I am sure that the army would not like to go into the areas where the laws are relaxed without the cover of these laws. Hence it is important that civil administration is imposed fully in such areas. There is an urgent need to test the new pattern and there is no harm in doing so.
I agree there is some discontentment about the law being relaxed selectively. All of us would like these laws completely, but the better thing would be to do it in a selective manner. The only time that we can relax these laws fully is when we have a statement from Pakistan. They need to assure us that they will not indulge in violence and if they can make this commitment then it is alright or else it could be dangerous to suddenly withdraw these laws.
Looking at this process, I feel that the CM should have followed more procedure while making such an announcement. We do have reasons to believe that things are better at the Valley. Instead of making a public announcement I feel he should have placed it before the Home Ministry had them discuss the issue and then gone ahead with it.
Prof S A R Geelani, from the Delhi University who was acquitted by the Supreme Court in the Parliament attack case feels this is a sham. It could be considered to be a positive step only if it was relaxed completely. They are only talking about withdrawing it in selective areas and this does not good. We are fully aware that this would be twisted. They will still pick up people from areas where the law is relaxed and in paper would show the person to be from the area where the law exist.
This is a draconian law and my question is why should this law be there in the first place when there is a democratically elected government. On one hand you call it the largest democracy in the world and on the other you have such laws.
Such laws need to be relaxed in full and not in part as it always can be misused. Why should you give a soldier a right to kill a person without reason and on the basis of suspicion? We have enough laws to deal with the real terrorists and there is no need for a special law. Having such special laws have never done the country any good and in the long run innocents have suffered.
An Intelligence Bureau official pointed out that the situation in Kashmir is better today. The very tight vigil along the borders have managed to keep infiltration at bay to a large extent and there are only stray incidents that are reported today. We would not say that the problem is completely solved and the group to watch out is the Lashkar since they have been taking various other paths to continue this fight. They today realise the problems in infiltrating through the Pakistan border. In the past couple of months they have been trying to infiltrate in through the Bangladesh border. There is also a lot of movement from within the country and they are attempting to train youth from India to fight the Kashmir battle. Hence looking at this scenario it would be foolish to withdraw these laws in toto and hence needs to be done in a phased manner with a lot of care.