NEW DELHI: The controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) will remain in the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as the Centre has bestowed on itself powers to declare any area “disturbed” under the Act.
The AFSPA gives sweeping power to the armed forces to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. In the erstwhile undivided state of J&K, the state government through district magistrates were empowered to declare a particular district or police station area “disturbed” under the AFSPA.
According to a government notification, the administration of the AFSPA in both the UTs is vested with the Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Though the AFSPA was applicable to the erstwhile state since 1990, Leh and Kargil — which now fall in the UT of Ladakh — were never declared as disturbed. After the state’s bifurcation, the police and law and order of the UTs will be managed by the MHA through Lieutenant Governors.
The nomenclature of the MHA wing, Department of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs (Jammu tatha Kashmir Vibhag), was changed to Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs (Jammu, Kashmir aur Ladakh Vibhag).
As per the notification, the Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs will be responsible for all matters relating to the two UTs, including counter terrorism , and coordination with the Defence Ministry as regards manning and managing the LoC, but excluding those with which the MEA is concerned.
"All matters falling within the purview of the Union Government in terms of the provisions of the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019) relating to both the UTs, except all such matters as have been specifically assigned under these rules to any other Ministry or Department of the Government of India," it said.
In Ladakh, the Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs will be responsible for all matters enumerated in the State List and concurrent List in any such matter concerns, except all such matters as have, under these rules, been specifically assigned to any other ministry or department of the central government.