Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office
Tribune News Service
Jammu, June 4
The Centre has again categorically ruled out touching the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) without getting the approval from the security agencies.“The last word on revoking AFSPA should come from the security agencies. If the security agencies feel that there is an improvement in the situation or this is not the right time for revocation of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir, that should suffice and we should not create an issue time and again,” said Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office, while ruling out any immediate action on the Act.
Jitendra was addressing a press conference in Jammu in relation with the Narendra Modi government completing one year. He has been entrusted with the job of making people aware of the achievements of the NDA government in the last one year.“These questions (on AFSPA) hardly need to be answered and my stand on this is consistent over the years. I am not qualified to answer this question. This is a subject where the last word should come from the security agencies. Any political functionary on any of the highest post can provide suggestions on the issue but cannot be a deciding factor,” said Jitendra, who is a senior BJP leader from the state.
There have been demands for revocation of AFSPA from J&K, particularly after the Tripura Government recently revoked the Act 18 years after it was enforced to deal with insurgency. To deal with arms insurgency in J&K, the state government enforced AFSPA in July 1990 in the Kashmir valley and parts of Poonch district near the Line of Control.
In August 2001, AFSPA was extended to all districts of the Jammu region as well. At present, only two districts of Kargil and Leh are out of the purview of AFSPA in the state.AFSPA provides legal cover to the Army to take action against militants in the state. The Kashmir-centric parties have been seeking revocation of AFSPA in a phased manner.
The Army as well as the Defence Ministry, however, have some reservations on the issue. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had recently said the Army could not operate in the state without AFSPA.Replying to a question on the BJP taking a step back on revoking Article 370, the minister said the BJP was committed to its ideological commitment on the issue.
“In J&K, the BJP is following the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ and can’t work outside it. We will not allow even the PDP to work beyond this common minimum programme. But it doesn’t mean we have left the issue as we are committed to our stand,” he said.
Commenting on the issue of setting up of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Jammu, Jitendra said, “I still stand by my words of establishing AIIMS in Jammu and I assure you that it will be first established here. The process of setting up AIIMS in Jammu had started by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government and a building was also constructed. But for past 10 years, non-BJP governments didn’t pursue the matter.
”In the past one month, Jammu has observed two shutdowns against the J&K government’s proposed move to establish AIIMS in the Kashmir valley.On the issue of raising of Pakistani flags in Kashmir, the minister said, “The Union Home Ministry has made it clear that nobody has the right to wave Pakistani flags and incite masses. We cannot tolerate such acts. We have been assured of appropriate action so that these things are not repeated again and again,” he said.(With inputs from PTI )