Should AFSPA be removed from Kashmir?

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had recently announced the government's intention to repeal the contentious AFSPA Act and withdraw certain troops from Jammu and Kashmir.

Reena Rai
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"The issue of reducing boots on the ground in conflict zones is a multifaceted one, as highlighted by recent discussions on the matter. The complexities arise from various factors, including historical precedents and current ground realities," said Maj Gen (retd) Ashwani Siwach in an interview with The Squirrels. 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had recently announced the government's intention to repeal the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and withdraw certain troops from Jammu and Kashmir. Additionally, with the Lok Sabha elections looming, Shah emphasized that the responsibility for maintaining law and order in the region will be entrusted to the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Historically, whenever troops have been withdrawn from certain areas, they have often witnessed a resurgence in activity after some time. This phenomenon has been observed in conflict zones worldwide, where areas previously deemed secure have once again become hotbeds of violence and unrest. This pattern necessitates careful consideration before any decision to reduce troop presence can be made.

One such example cited in recent discussions pertains to the situation in certain regions of Kashmir. Areas that were once relatively peaceful have seen a resurgence in militant activity, with terrorist infiltrations from across the border exacerbating the situation. The influx of militants, coupled with the presence of sleeper cells lying dormant, underscores the need for caution when contemplating troop withdrawals.

While there have been significant strides towards peace and development in certain areas, the threat of radicalization and militant resurgence remains ever-present. Efforts to reduce troop presence must be balanced with the need to address these underlying issues effectively.

Furthermore, external factors, such as the actions of neighboring countries, play a significant role in shaping the security landscape. The presence of militants in launch pads across the border and the political instability in neighboring nations add another layer of complexity to the situation. Any premature withdrawal of troops could potentially embolden hostile elements and undermine the hard-won gains in stability.

It is essential to recognize the progress that has been made in fostering peace and development in conflict-affected regions. Initiatives such as grassroots democracy, infrastructure development, and community engagement have contributed to positive outcomes. However, these gains must be safeguarded against potential threats, both internal and external.

"While there may be aspirations to reduce boots on the ground in conflict zones, it is imperative to approach this issue with caution and foresight. Any decision must be based on a comprehensive understanding of the ground realities, taking into account the complexities and challenges inherent in such environments. Only then can sustainable peace and stability be achieved in these regions" General Siwach said. 

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