Nirmala Sitharaman said this will only encourage separatism in Jammu and Kashmir. (Image Credit: ANI)
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday slammed Congress for its election manifesto promising to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act – AFSPA. “Is this right? It is an effort to weaken the armed forces. They are trying to dilute the immunity of our security forces,” she said while addressing a press briefing in the national capital.
The Defence Minister said the Congress also proposes to 'dilute' the powers of the district magistrates and maintained in such an eventuality, it will be difficult for administration and the law enforcement agencies to control the situation anywhere.
'I feel..... this will be several times terrorist-friendly and people can claim every such arrest is accompanied by sexual harassment or torture,' Sitharaman said, adding a complainant will always mention all these as the new law proposed by Congress will give them relief.
#ElectionsWithNewsNation | It is an effort to weaken the armed forces. Congress is trying to dilute the immunity of our security forces, says @nsitharaman on Congress's manifesto promise to amend AFSPA.— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) April 3, 2019
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"If AFSPA has to be removed, there is a process. It is done in coordination between the states and the Centre,' she said, adding such norms were adopted in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tripura after due consultations with the states.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Congress released it's manifesto for the ensuing Lok Sabha polls, stressing that dialogue was the only way to understand the aspirations of the people of the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir to find an honourable solution to their issues.
It also promised to review the AFSPA and sedition law among others.
In its 54-page manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, Congress promised to review the deployment of armed forces, move more troops to the border to stop infiltration completely, reduce the presence of the Army and the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) in the Valley and entrust more responsibility with the Jammu and Kashmir police for maintaining law and order.
"The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Disturbed Areas Act in Jammu and Kashmir will be reviewed," the BJP had said, adding that suitable changes would be made in the text of the laws to balance the requirements of security and protection of human rights.
In a statement, BJP chief Amit Shah had hit out at the opposition party over its promise to repeal section 124A (sedition law) and review the AFSPA, saying it was bringing a smile to terrorists and separatists while lowering the morale of the armed forces.