SRINAGAR: In a significant development, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hinted on Friday that the time might be ripe for the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) to be lifted in Kashmir. However, he emphasised that the final decision rests with the Union Home Ministry.

AFSPA grants sweeping powers to armed forces personnel in disturbed areas, including the authority to search, arrest, and open fire if deemed necessary for the maintenance of public order.

“Now the time has come to decide that it can be removed; now the decision will have to be taken by the home ministry after the report comes. I said that the circumstances have become such that AFSPA can be removed but whatever action has to be taken in this regard will be taken by the home ministry,” Rajnath Singh said in an interview with a TV channel.

The remarks from the Defence Minister followed recent comments by Home Minister Amit Shah, who also indicated a willingness to consider revoking AFSPA during an interview with the JK Media Group.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was introduced in Jammu and Kashmir in the 1990s amid concerns of widespread disturbances, granting defence forces the authority to maintain peace in the region.

Moreover, Shah outlined plans for the gradual withdrawal of troops from the union territory, entrusting the maintenance of law and order to the local police force.

“Soon the police of Jammu and Kashmir will take care of law and order, and the troops will be withdrawn gradually. We have made a blueprint for seven years, and we are working on strengthening the police of Jammu and Kashmir,” Shah stated, highlighting the evolving role and capabilities of the local police in handling security operations.

(Kashmir Life)