GUWAHATI: Defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday that the Army has “minimal role in internal security” and it wants AFSPA withdrawn from J&K, but the situation must become conducive for removing emergency powers granted to troops in the Union territory hit by decades of separatism and terrorism.
“AFSPA is in force because of the situation, not the Army. People should understand this,” Singh said, while felicitating 1971 Indo-Pak War veterans from of Assam and their families at a function in Guwahati.
People in J&K and the Northeast have accused security forces of exceeding the powers granted to them under the 1958 AFSPA in their operations. There have been calls to repeal the law that gives the military sweeping powers to search, seize and even shoot suspects on sight without fear of prosecution.
Singh said: “It is the perception of some people that the Army wants the AFSPA to remain imposed. I want to make this clear from this forum that the Army has minimal role in internal security. The Army only wants the situation in J&K to be completely normal soon. AFSPA can be removed from there too.”
“The job of internal security is of police, state government and central paramilitary forces. Our defence force wants to be relieved from internal security responsibility soon so that they can get back to the border,” he said.
Singh said the Centre is making all efforts to crush militancy in the country and “we have shown that, if needed, we will eliminate terrorism emanating from across the border. This is a firm decision of our government”.
AFSPA was removed from some areas of Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh when he was home minister and now under Amit Shah, the law was completely removed from 23 districts of Assam and from areas under 15 police stations each in Manipur and Nagaland, Singh said.
“This is the result of durable peace and stability in these areas,” he said.