After 'peaceful' 2012, Kashmiris urge end to war-time measures
Government tallies in Indian-controlled Kashmir show a drop in violence, fueling more calls for a loosening of the military presence here.
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“There is a volatile situation but an uneasy calm. There has been steady decline in militancy. The dialogue is very important. We should look at this more positive way. We had recommended three things – stabilizing the situation on the ground, re-integration of divided areas and returning of former militants, and the peace process with the separatist groups,” says Ms. Kumar, a former member of a team of "interlocutors" appointed by the Indian government to start a dialogue with Kashmiris.Skip to next paragraph
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The state's chief minister, an ally of India's ruling coalition in New Delhi, has argued publicly for AFSPA's revocation. But last month the chief minister said that the Army has scuttled the proposal.
The National Conference Party, which currently rules the state, issued a statement on Dec. 28 after the Indian Army allegedly fired on protesters in Pulwama district saying that the Army cannot continue to use AFSPA to act with impunity, and that by such actions the Army was only making things difficult for the proponents of peace. The party also accused the Army of being responsible for the 2010 civil uprising in which 112 people were killed by paramilitary forces and police.
The Indian military cautions that it's too soon to assume the region will remain peaceful.
“One year being peaceful doesn’t mean the peace has returned, instead, there has to be durable peace,” says Lt. Col. J S Brar, Srinagar-based Defense spokesperson of India. He declined to comment on AFSPA saying that the “Army’s views on it are very well known that have been articulated by senior commanders and I will not comment on it.” The Army has argued that in most other states of India there is some legal protection for soldiers under a different law that is not fully applicable in Jammu and Kashmir.
There is also some push-back from human rights groups here about the extent of the peace. A report released today by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society says that the year 2012 has passed just like previous years, and the state government has disgracefully claimed the year to be peaceful. Giving figures that contradict the home ministry, it says 148 people have lost their lives in 2012 because of violent incidents. It includes 35 civilians, 75 alleged militants, 36 armed forces personnel, 1 unknown person, and 1 retired police officer.
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