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Cabinet discusses AFSPA, reviews situation in Kashmir

Friday October 28, 2011 11:59:01 AM, IANS

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New Delhi: Against the backdrop of a raging debate over a proposal to withdraw the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain areas in Jammu and Kashmir, the Cabinet Committee on Security met at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence here Thursday.

The over 90-minute-long meeting, chaired by Manmohan Singh, was attended by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is away to Australia to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of the 54-nation Commonwealth.

The meeting discussed the surprise announcement by Abdullah on a proposal to revoke AFPSA in some areas which is being opposed by the Army as well as the ruling Congress party, said well-placed sources. There was, however, no official word on the outcome of the meeting.

Congress leader Saif-ud-din Soz has slammed Abdullah for what he called a unilateral announcement and said all stakeholders, including the Army, should have been consulted before such an important step.

The Army has been backing the continuation of the AFSPA on the grounds that tough laws are needed to deal with militancy in the state.

However, Army chief General V.K. Singh treaded cautiously when asked for his comments. "It is within the purview of the home ministry and they know what our input is," he told reporters.

The cabinet meeting on security also discussed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of multiple grenade attacks earlier this week by suspected militants in parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier in the day, Home Minister P. Chidambaram had reviewed the security situation in the state with senior officials. The meeting was attended by Home Secretary R.K. Singh and other senior officials of the ministry.

The meeting came as a shutdown called by separatists -- to protest the landing of Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir on this day in 1947 to fight Pakistan-backed tribal invaders -- evoked a partial response in Kashmir Valley Thursday.





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