NEW DELHI: The Congress manifesto proposes to reduce the presence of Army and central armed police forces in the Kashmir Valley and also promises to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA, which grants special powers to the armed forces in insurgency-hit areas, if the party is voted to power.
In its section on Jammu & Kashmir, the manifesto says AFSPA and the Disturbed Area Act will be reviewed in Kashmir. On AFSPA, Congress said that it will make suitable changes in the text of the law to balance security requirements and human rights.
The party promised to review the deployment of armed forces and move more troops to the border to stop infiltration.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surejwala, however, clarified the party stand on AFSPA and said, “We will not withdraw it without consulting the Army...There are some areas, where AFPSA is required.” Besides Kashmir, AFSPA is also applicable to certain areas of Northeast.
The manifesto states that the whole of J&K is part of India and added that Congress will not touch Article 370 which grants special rights to Kashmir.
The Congress stand on Article 370 is the exact opposite to that of the BJP which advocates abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A which are applicable to Kashmir.
Omar defends statement
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah defended his statement on restoring the posts of ‘sadr-e-riyasat’ (president) and Wazir-e-Azam (prime minister) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Omar said the NC had taken the same stand even when he was a minister in the Vajpayee government.