GUWAHATI: All three wings of the defence forces are in favour of lifting the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, from the Northeast and Jammu & Kashmir, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh said here on Saturday. “Some people believe the Indian Army does not want AFSPA to be removed. But I want to say it clearly that the Army does not want AFSPA’s imposition. The fact is the tri-services want respite from matters of internal security so that they can concentrate on their core responsibility of protecting against external threats,” Singh said.
The defence minister added that internal security is not the Indian Army’s job but that of the police and central paramilitary forces. AFSPA is being withdrawn from parts of the Northeast thanks to the return of durable peace and stability, he noted. “If AFSPA is enforced somewhere, the situation is responsible for it, not the Army. People should understand this truth,” he said.
Singh was speaking at a programme in Guwahati where the veterans of the 1971 war were felicitated. His comments come at a time when the chorus for withdrawal of the controversial law from J&K after the Centre’s decision to reduce areas in the Northeast from the purview of the Act.
“Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, we are getting fantastic results on matters of internal as well as external security. We will eliminate terrorism from the country. If it is sponsored externally, we will not hesitate to cross the border to take actions,” Singh added.
Talking about the strategic advantages India has got from the 1971 war, Singh said the eastern boundary is experiencing more peace and stability compared to the western frontier. “The kind of tension that we see on the western front, we don’t see it on the India-Bangladesh border as Bangladesh is a friendly country,” he added.
Singh said the problem of infiltration has more or less ended. “There is peace on the Bangladesh border and this was possible due to the rapport between the Centre and the state governments. The Northeast is advancing on the road to development,” he said.
MINISTER CLARIFIES ROLE OF ARMY IN INTERNAL SECURITY
The defence minister said internal security is not the Indian Army’s job but that of the police and central paramilitary forces. AFSPA is being withdrawn from parts of the Northeast thanks to the return of peace and stability. His comments come at a time when the chorus for withdrawal of the controversial law from J&K are getting louder