AFSPA: Omar’s do-or-die despite round one fiasco
But the law will never go until politicians stop playing to the gallery
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Despite the fact that in 2007-08 Omar was a Member of Lok Sabha, who watched these developments closely and is suspected to have subscribed to PDP’s headache, he seems to have forgotten certain fundamental lessons on the subject. He has repeated the mistake of the beaten track ad nauseum, particularly in the last few weeks. After 21 years of insurgency, one does not need to be either an active politician or a political analyst to realize that courtroom argument does not work in sensitive matters concerning this country’s “sovereignty and integrity”.
Who doesn’t know that Defence Minister A K Antony’s ‘United Headquarters’ and ‘United Command’ have no mention in this country’s or the state’s law books? Who doesn’t know that revocation of Disturbed Areas notification, that automatically makes AFSPA inapplicable, is prerogative of the civilian government in Jammu & Kashmir in case there is not a declared war or the state is not under Governor’s or President’s rule? But, at the same time, who doesn’t remember that the Congress-led Centre got a Wazeer-e-Azam of Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah’s stature dismissed and handcuffed in a jiffy in the Pakistani style of “protecting the state”?
might not be labouring under ignorance. He might be knowing well that after the 1953 trauma, no head of the government in J&K---let alone one holding the chair courtesy Congress--- would have the spine of revoking a security-related law in confrontation with the Centre. And, the Generals in Army are in no confusion to believe that under the existing system Defence Minister would be nothing but rubber-stamp in their “professional analysis”. This is exactly where Omar erred when he agreed to “discuss” AFSPA revocation with the field commanders at his Antony residence. He should not have interacted with anybody below the person of Jammu . Antony
Srinagar Corps Commander Gen Hasnain’s audacity of clubbing the Chief Minister, his government and party with the “Government of Pakistan, ISI Directorate, terrorists and Kashmiri separatists” would have been acceptable only to the level of Home Secretary and DGP or, for that matter, upto Messers Mubarak Gul and Devender Singh Rana.
“No is not an option”, Omar asserted next day. Hours later, he came out with the courtroom argument: “Governor has the authority (to withdraw AFSPA) and in this case he has to act on the advice of the state government”. Ultimately, the chain of errors, that began with CM’s publicly fixing the deadline of “next few days” and “before Durbar Move”, got an undesirable ring when Mr Azad ignored Antony as Mr Nobody and argued that the issue would be settled by “J&K Chief Minister and union Home Minister”. National Conference under anti-Soz euphoria failed to perceive applicability of
Newton’s Third Law of Motion in ’s politics. India didn’t wait a day to assert that the matter would be settled by “Unified Command, not the Chief Minister alone”. Antony
Be that firebrand Ali Mohammad Sagar or the foot-in-the-mouth Mustafa Kamaal, NC had never dearth of men cursing and demonizing Delhi and her armed forces while, paradoxically, enjoying all fruits of the “occupation”. Mr Kamaal kicked his nephew’s applecart when he outstretched his claws to the forbidden fruit---Rahul Gandhi. He seemed to have also forgotten that Assembly elections were around the corner in five states in the Indian Hindi belt and Congress had high stakes in all the five.
Revoking AFSPA under threat from NC---Kamaal’s parabola of blaming Army for grenade blasts in Valley and demonizing the institution of armed forces publicly in a hyper-Hurriyat style---has every potential of giving the much-needed handle to BJP.
On the other hand, Hurriyat fired the ultimate salvo with identical statements from both of its factions. In obvious reaction to Gen Hasnain’s apprehension that withdrawal of AFSPA would lead to Kashmir’s separation from India within 2016, statements from Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (which are used as a barometer by New Delhi in such situations) confirmed that revocation of “draconian laws” would inevitably lead to an “unimaginable mass turmoil” in Valley. Who on earth in this country would now run the risk of reviving the separatist movement? This automatically makes
heavier than all of his colleagues in Cabinet Committee on Security. Antony
Even if Chief Minister wants to be politically correct for the Valley’s unmeasured separatist constituency and he does not sing a song in Army’s praise for hundreds of its “supreme sacrifices in restoring the peace”; even if he does not acknowledge that Army alone held the throat-slitting Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Haqqani Network away from Kashmir; even if he doesn’t muster courage to call the militants as “terrorists”, he may have to employ reconciliation to achieve his goal.
And, finally Chief Minister may have to remember other part of his statistics: Scores of Police Stations are still the company headquarters of CRPF and BSF; incidents of rape and killing by armed forces have fallen close to zero in the last five or six years; more youths in Valley are asking for a job than asserting against AFSPA and PSA, which are vanishing as nightmares of yesteryears.
Peace has really returned and troops have not been deployed in operations in
Central Kashmir in last few years. Better remove camps and bunkers without the 24x7 cursing of AFSPA, seek Centre’s sanction to prosecution of delinquent soldiers and assign all counter-insurgency operations in the hinterland to Police and civil administration. But that will not happen until every single individual in J&K Police becomes a soldier of accountability and commitment and the armed forces are seen off by the state’s politicians with moist eyes and sense of gratitude. Building prestige, ego and jingoism would only be counterproductive. One has seen how Omar’s suggestion of amending CrPC has been assailed by all and sundry from PDP and Hurriyat to BJP and Army.