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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

From Today's Papers - 14 Sep 2010







  Internal security challenges Police needs a doctrine for effective functioning
by Gen V. P. Malik (retd)  India’s internal security has become a major area of concern. Maoists’ activities have increased substantially. According to Home Minister P. Chidambaram, 223 districts across 20 states (out of a total of 636 districts in 28 states and seven Union Territories) are thus affected. A situation of “consistent violence” exists in about 400 police station areas of 90 districts in 13 states. The Maoists have threatened that they would “expand their activities to wider areas, mobilise wider masses, gather new momentum and get new dynamism” in the wake of multi-state counter-insurgency operations launched against them. In recent months, no week has passed without an armed encounter or a casualty. In 2009, there were 998 fatalities, 312 of them police personnel. The fatalities this year have already crossed 885, which include over 200 policemen. The number of policemen who have laid down their lives is very large when compared to the success achieved in such encounters.  In J & K, militant activities have been curtailed substantially although jihadi terrorists’ attempts to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir continue. More worrisome, however, is the public order, which has become extremely fragile on account of upsurge in street protests, stone pelting by mobs and casualties due to firing by security forces. According to available statistics, while terrorist attacks have been on the wane, 68 civilians have died in security forces’ action till date this year as compared to 11 in the whole of 2009.  At a time when the policemen in Kashmir are dealing with violent mobs on a regular basis and facing criticism over the large number of civilian deaths, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has acknowledged that “policing” in the country has become increasingly complex. While addressing a conference of senior police officers on August 26, he said, “Social tensions, religious disputes, economic disparities and regional, linguistic and ethnic differences have long been major challenges to effective ‘policing’ in India. But, of late, the growing presence of non-state actors, fundamentalist groups and Left-wing extremists has further complicated matters. The growing interlinking of the destabilising and criminal forces across states and across our borders call for far greater vigilance and coordination between the security agencies than ever before.”  The spectrum of law and order situations that police personnel face today has increased in quantity, intensity and complexity. Several organisational and systemic measures have been taken to revamp India’s internal security architecture in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. These include transparent police recruitment, a crime and criminal tracking network, community policing, a national database grid, establishment of NSG hubs in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai and a unified national counter-terrorism centre. A scheme of Rs 4185 crore is being implemented for the modernisation of Central police forces and their capabilities.  Large Central police organisations of over six lakh personnel having 354 battalions (of which 220 battalions are meant for border guarding duties) have been set up, and some more are in the offing. In that, the burden of electioneering duties and dealing with low and high-intensity internal security situations (from street protests and anti-terrorist actions in J&K to Maoist insurgencies) is mostly shouldered by the state armed police, the Central Reserve Police Force and other such forces. It is apparent that in their rapid expansion in recent years, adequate attention has not been paid to various aspects of human resource development, thus forgetting the famous statement that “the man behind the gun is always more important than the gun”.  It is common to see the Central police forces quite literally being flown from one operational situation to another. While switching roles and missions, they do not undergo any orientation and induction training and are placed under the command of the officers whom they do not know. Till date, we have not heard of any police doctrine (or standard operating procedures) which would organise, equip and prepare them for their different roles and missions. For example, the Army doctrine on providing assistance to the civilian authorities for the maintenance of law and order lays down clearly that troops must work on the well-established principles of “good faith”, “use of minimum force” and “prior warning to the people” when compelled to take action.  However disciplined and dedicated a police team may be, it cannot be expected to give its best if it is shifted so frequently from electioneering duties to maintaining law and order in J&K and handling counter-insurgency situations in the Maoist-affected areas without adequate induction briefing, training and orientation. Also, when working on different doctrinal missions, these forces have to be organised and equipped with appropriate weapons, including those of the non-lethal variety, to avoid civilian casualties due to panic or premature firing.  Yet another problem in law and order and insurgency situations being faced currently is due to policemen and Army personnel wearing similar combat uniforms and badges of rank and being clubbed as “security forces”. This has neutralised the impact of “appropriate and graduated response” in law and order situations as most people cannot differentiate between the police forces and the Army. While synergy is desirable, the Army must be used and be seen to be used as the “instrument of last resort” while dealing with such situations.  Strangely, it was not any professional but the Prime Minister who pointed out that “We cannot have an approach of one size fits all. For instance, I understand that instead of a single standard sequence for the use of force, other countries have put in place procedures that vary according to the specific needs in different situations.” The Prime Minister also lamented that most states were yet to adopt the template for a transparent and objective recruitment process circulated by the Home Ministry. Here, I may add that the states have also failed to implement the Supreme Court directives on essential police reforms such as the selection of the DGP from a panel, fixation of tenures and the establishment of an institutionalised system to make police transfers and postings immune from day-to-day political interference.  In conclusion, it must be stated that making police forces more efficient and effective is only a part of the holistic measures required to deal with insurgencies, large-scale street protests and other internal security problems. The states and the Centre need to provide dedicated and effective governance through good administration, a prompt and fair judiciary and a law and order machinery that inspires public confidence.








CCS mum on AFSPA, calls all-party meeting
* Expresses distress over fresh valley violence * Reiterates govt intention to restart dialogue * Says discussion only way forward Anita Katyal Our Political Correspondent  New Delhi, September13 The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which held a three-hour meeting this evening to discuss various options on curtailing the growing violent protests in Jammu and Kashmir, today chose to once again explore the option of a political dialogue as a solution to the problem for which it has called an all-party meeting on Wednesday.  The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, steered clear of acceding to Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s request for the gradual withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in certain districts as part of a larger peace package for the troubled border state. The ongoing violence has rendered this option untenable at present, UPA sources said.  The all-party meeting may be followed by a visit of an all-party delegation to Kashmir with an objective of opening a dialogue with different groups that may include separatists, civil society representatives and the new leadership of protesters.  The Centre’s roadmap for a renewed dialogue was reflected in the official statement made after the meeting. “The UPA has always held the belief that dialogue and discussion is the only way forward to find a lasting solution,” the statement said, adding that the Centre had made similar attempts in the past to hold talks with political parties, including the Hurriyat, but to little avail.  Well aware that the protesters may not be satisfied with announcements of rehabilitation and job packages as they remain adamant on a political solution to the long-standing Kashmir dispute, the Centre today went a step further by assuring them that the proposed dialogue would cover “all issues that agitate the minds of people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the youth.” The CCS also expressed distress over the “turn of events” in the Valley since Saturday and appealed to the people of Kashmir, especially the youth; to refrain from violent protests.  The decision to take the political route was arrived at after several rounds of discussions which the Prime Minister had conducted with his Cabinet colleagues, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and leaders of other political parties. There was an overwhelming view that it is absolutely critical at this juncture to reach out and engage with the people of Kashmir instead of debating the pros and cons of withdrawing the AFSPA and other peace initiatives with each other.  Though the escalating violence has triggered demands from the BJP that Omar Abdullah be asked to step down for mishandling the situation, security agencies do not agree on the ground that it would show up the state’s weakness. The Congress has maintained a studied silence on this issue but there is a growing uneasiness in the party that Omar’s continuation is hurting Sonia Gandhi who is perceived to be supporting him. UPA sources said Omar had offered to step down when he met the Prime Minister and Sonia last time but he was prevailed upon by his father Farooq Abdullah to continue.  Hours before the meeting, Omar had separate meetings with Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister P Chidambaram today during which a political package for the state figured during the deliberations.









Did anonymous letter lead to Captain Kohli's death? 
NDTV Correspondent, Updated: September 14, 2010 01:02 IST Ads by Google  Luxury Home Doors Windows – European Quality. Made for India. India's #1 Window & Door Company  www.Fenesta.com  PLAYClick to Expand & Play Jammu:  Defence Minister AK Antony recently ordered a reinvestigation into the death of Captain Sumit Kohli. He was found dead with gunshot wounds in his room in April 2006.  The Army's Court of Inquiry held his death was a suicide. But his family has ever since maintained that he was murdered by senior officers because he was going to blow the lid off some fake encounters in Kashmir in which civilians were killed.  In April 2004, Bhushan Lal and three others from Jammu region went to work as porters for the Army in the Lolab Valley. But they never returned. They were allegedly killed in the fake encounter, which is said to be behind Captain Kohli's death.  "We still haven't told the children that their father will never come back. We have told them that he has gone for his job," says Madan Lal, father of Bhushan Lal.      * In 2005, an anonymous letter informed Bhushan Lal's family that he and his three colleagues were killed by the Army in fake encounters.  The letter names a Colonel and a Major as being responsible for the encounter. When Bhushal Lal's father tried to find out more in Kashmir, he came across Captain Sumit Kohli who told him "the person who wrote the letter to you will make sure you get justice."  A few months later, Captain Kohli was found dead. The Army said it was suicide but his family said the Shaurya Charka winner was murdered.  "I am dead sure that my brother has been murdered by few people in the Army who wanted to cover-up the story of a fake encounter. There was a fake encounter in the Lolab valley," says Captain Kohli's sister Namrata Kohli.  "I feel this letter has been written by Sumit Kohli. After writing this letter he lost his life. Had he not written this letter and had we not come to know that there was a fake encounter, he would have perhaps been alive, says Madan Lal, father of Bhushan Lal.  The family believes there is certainly a connection between the death of Captain Kohli and their loved one missing in Kashmir. They feel Captain Kohli knew about the fake encounter. They now say they will fight till they get justice.









Three militants killed in encounter in Bandipora 
Press Trust of India, Updated: September 13, 2010 18:06 IST Ads by Google  Luxury Home Doors Windows – European Quality. Made for India. India's #1 Window & Door Company  www.Fenesta.com  Srinagar:  Three militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in the forests of Bandipora district of north Kashmir on Monday.  Acting on a tip off, army troops launched a search operation to flush out militants hiding in a forest on the outskirts of Bandipora town, 55 kms from Srinagar, early today, defence spokesman Lt Colonel J S Brar said.  He said the search party confronted a group of hiding militants and asked them to surrender. However, the ultras opened fire in an attempt to break the security cordon and in the ensuing gunbattle, three militants were killed.  The identity and group affiliation of the slain militants could not be ascertained immediately as the operation was still continuing when last reports were received, the spokesman said.









Indian Navy warship thwarts pirates' attempt off the Gulf of Aden
  Press Trust of India, Updated: September 13, 2010 21:00 IST Ads by Google  Luxury Home Doors Windows – European Quality. Made for India. India's #1 Window & Door Company  www.Fenesta.com  New Delhi:  A week after it guarded 13 merchant vessels from piracy attack, an Indian warship has once again warded off an attempt by sea brigands on nine cargo ships including an Indian vessel off Yemeni coast in Gulf of Aden.  This is the 17th successful operation of the Indian Navy to prevent a piracy attack on merchant vessels escorted by its warships since October 2008, when they were deployed in Gulf of Aden.  INS Delhi, a guided missile destroyer, was escorting the nine cargo vessels, including MV Desh Ujala flying the Indian flag, yesterday at 130 km south of Yemen when the incident took place, according to a navy press release here today.  Delhi, which has been deployed in Gulf of Aden since July on anti-piracy mission, had similarly saved 12 merchant vessels from an attempt by pirates in Gulf of Aden on September 6 also.









Indian Air Force Imparts Sukhoi Su-30 Fighter Training to Malaysian Air Force Pilots
Dated 12/9/2010  The Indian Air Force (IAF)'s two-year-plus stint in training their Malaysian counterparts to operate the Russian-made Sukhoi Su30-MKM Flankers came to an end on Sunday.  The 53-member IAF team of air and technical crew, led by Group Captain K.V.R. Raju, had been working with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) since March 2008.  "The RMAF's 11th Squadron is now capable of operating on their own after achieving the required standards," The New Straits Times quoted Raju, as saying.  "My team and I are proud to have been a part of the efforts of imparting invaluable operational experience to them via the best possible training programme available," he added.  The IAF has been operating the Sukhoi Su30 for the past 12 years, while Malaysia acquired the jets in 2007.








Agni-V To Be Test Fired in 2011: DRDO
Dated 12/9/2010  Newspaper reports quote V.K. Saraswat, Director General of the DRDO confirming that the Agni-V Intermediate Range Missile will be test fired in 2011. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is an agency of the Indian Government, responsible for the development of technology for use by the military.  V.K. Saraswat, who is also the Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Defence, has been quoted as saying: "Agni-V should be ready to be test-fired anytime next year. It is an intermediate-range ballistic missile .. Over the past 15 years, the successful launches of the Prithvi, Agni and BrahMos missiles have proved that the country's missile programme has reached a mature level,"  The Agni-V is a three stage solid fueled missile with composite motor casing in the third stage. Two stages of this missile will be made of composite material. Agni-V will be able to carry multiple warheads and will have countermeasures against Anti-ballistic missile systems. The Agni-V will be the first canisterised, road-mobile missile in India's arsenal. India's current long-range missile, the Agni-3, a non-canisterised missile, can only be moved with difficulty from one place to another.








DRDO plans to form commercial arm by year-end
Dated 12/9/2010  DRDO plans to form a commercial arm by year-end as it seeks to put in place an aggressive approach towards marketing and commercialization of its products and technologies and exports, a senior official said.  DRDO was exploring the possibility of export of Akash and Nag missiles besides the Light Combat Aircraft (Trainer) among others, developed by it, DRDO Research and Development Chief Controller, Mr Prahlada said, adding the proposed venture would be similar to Antrix, the marketing arm of Isro.  "If not today, tomorrow we want to start export," Mr Prahlada said after unveiling the logo of newly formed Bengaluru Defence and Aerospace Journalists' Forum (BDAJF) and delivering the inaugural talk.  "We would have a commercial arm for export of defence items... so that we are going to see a different type of business models," he said.  He noted that DRDO already has a franchisee kind of arrangement with industry body FICCI, which is facilitating marketing of some 10 DRDO-developed products to the industry.  A particular country has come forward to market battlefield surveillance radar developed by DRDO and if it comes through, the order would be worth several hundreds of crores of rupees, Mr Prahlada said.  In the next two-decades, India is projected to overtake many countries including France, UK and Israel to become the world number two, behind China, in terms of defence-related activities, including production. It is not clear if the US would continue to invest in this sector.  In the next 10-15 years, he said DRDO's role would only be limited to being a "think-tank" in government R&D areas, with industries getting into play in a big way.  The Department of Science and Technology and Planning Commission were in a dialogue to put in place a formal mechanism to take the fruits of R&D in DRDO, Isro and Department of Atomic Energy to non-strategic departments, state governments and districts, he added.









DRDO Working On Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles
 Dated 12/9/2010  Agency reports have suggested that DRDO has begun working on unmanned combat air vehicles for a possible procurement by the Indian Air Force. Press Trust of India has quoted a senior DRDO official saying that work for the UCAV is in parallel progress in labs across the country.  The following quotes are attributed to P.S. Subramanyan, Project Director of Aeronautical Development Agency (a DRDO lab): -- "We have identified all the technologies required for the unmanned combat air vehicle ... Technologies include flying wing and stealth, which was most important" -- "Work on the project has begun in different parts of the country, including in laboratories. Technologies are now getting evolved and we are working on configuration in parallel and eventually at some stage user (IAF) requirements will be matched into the design"  An unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) or "combat drone" is an experimental class of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs). They differ from ordinary UAVs, because they are designed to deliver weapons (attack targets) – possibly with a great degree of autonomy. The elimination of the need for an on-board human crew in a combat aircraft that may be shot down over enemy territory has obvious advantages for personnel safety.  In addition, much equipment necessary for a human pilot (such as the cockpit, flight controls, oxygen, seat/ejection seat, etc.) can be omitted from an unmanned vehicle, resulting in a decrease in weight possibly allowing greater payloads, range and maneuverability.










Strategic Command to Acquire 40 Nuclear Capable Fighter Jets
 - PTI Dated 11/9/2010  With an aim of increasing its lethal power, India's tri-services strike force is planning to acquire 40 fighter planes capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) has submitted a proposal to the Defence Ministry for setting up two dedicated squadrons of fighter aircraft which will act as "mini-Air Force", ministry sources said.  This will be the first time that SFC, which at present depends on the Indian Air Force for delivering nuclear weapons under its command, will have its own aerial assets, they said.  The SFC does not want untested fighters but the ones which are battle proven and have capabilities to deliver nuclear-tipped missiles, the sources said.  The aircraft planned to be procured are part of efforts to strengthen the nuclear delivery system which right now is based on land-based ballistic missiles such as the Agni and Prithvi and nuclear-capable fighters such as the Mirage 2000, Su-30 MKI and Jaguars.  Created in January 2003, the SFC is part of the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) and is responsible for the management and administration of the country's tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile.  Attempts are underway to complete the nuclear triad by developing the indigenous Arihant class nuclear submarine and under-sea launched versions of the existing ballistic missile systems.  India's nuclear doctrine envisages building a credible minimum deterrent for maintaining a 'second strike capability' which will be massive and designed to induce unacceptable damage on the enemy.  The SFC is headed by a three-star officer from any of the three services and is responsible for implementing directives of the NCA. At present, the force is headed by Lieutenant General B S Nagal.  The force manages and administers all strategic forces by exercising complete command and control over nuclear assets, and producing all contingency plans as needed to fulfil the required tasks.  The operational missile groups of the Army are armed with the 150-250 km short-range Prithvi missiles and the others with the Agni missiles of ranges above 1,5000 km form the nucleus of SFC.









India, Japan share notes on China Army build-up
Shubhajit Roy Posted online: Tue Sep 14 2010, 03:04 hrs New Delhi : With India’s relations with China coming under strain in recent months, New Delhi and Tokyo have exchanged notes on the lack of transparency in Beijing’s spending on its military upgrade. They have also shared their concerns about Chinese military build-up in border areas.  Sources said that the issue figured in discussions between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada last month. Okada visited New Delhi and held delegation-level talks with Krishna on August 20.  Sources said that the two sides had expressed “similar language” in describing Chinese actions. India has also expresses it views on the subject with the US when defence officials from Washington came to New Delhi and spoke about their concerns over Beijing.  While an exchange of views is not new, what has gained relevance is that New Delhi, Tokyo and Washington are on the “same page” with regard to Beijing’s aggressive postures, diplomatic sources told The Indian Express. While Pentagon in a recent report has talked about Chinese military activities, Japan’s Defence Ministry’s annual report — released last week — highlighted China’s increased military spending.










'Assertive' China a worry, says Antony
Rajat Pandit, TNN, Sep 14, 2010, 01.09am IST NEW DELHI: For once, the normally ultra-cautious defence minister A K Antony admitted China was becoming increasingly assertive. The top military brass, in turn, asked the political leadership to factor China's ever-expanding transborder, cyber and space-warfare military capabilities into India's national security matrix.  Even as the military brass warned that China posed "serious challenges'', it was of the view that the political establishment should chalk out clear-cut national security objectives, which in turn would fashion the joint military strategy to meet any external threat.  Yes, Pakistan and its "proxy war'' in J&K, Afghanistan and the Pakistan-sponsored Taliban, Naxalism and coastal security, all figured during the annual combined commanders' conference on Monday, attended by PM Manmohan Singh, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P Chidambaram and national security adviser Shivshankar Menon, among others.  But China's massive build-up of military infrastructure along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control, its strategic moves in Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and rapid modernisation of the People's Liberation Army were red-flagged as worrisome during the conference. This comes in the backdrop of the increasing Chinese footprint in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, both in terms of projects as well as personnel.  The PM, on his part, said India needed to develop border infrastructure, for both land and sea, with "a sense of urgency'' because it was "an integral part'' of the country's defence preparedness.  Antony was more direct. "We want to develop friendly relations with China... However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that China has been improving its military and physical infrastructure,'' said the defence minister.  "In fact, there has been an increasing assertiveness on the part of China. We are taking all necessary steps to upgrade our capabilities. We have never linked our capabilities to counter any particular nation,'' he added.  All the three Service chiefs, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Admiral Nirmal Verma and General V K Singh, too expressed concern on the China-front, which the armed forces consider more of "a long-term threat'' rather than Pakistan.  The IAF chief, for instance, talked about how his force had begun to base the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets in the North-East as well as upgrade several airstrips and helipads in the region.  The Army, on its part, is raising two new specialised infantry mountain divisions (35,000 soldiers) and an artillery brigade for Arunachal Pradesh, even as Navy tries to counter the increasing Chinese presence in IOR. India, of course, also plans to test its most ambitious ballistic missile, the 5,000-km Agni-V, by early 2011 to bolster its deterrence posture against China.  Both the PM and Antony underlined the ongoing endeavour to modernise the Indian armed forces to tackle all exigencies. "When it comes to defence capability, we must be ahead of the technology curve,'' said the PM.  "Defence modernisation, however, is a complex task. If it's to be effective, it must involve the full chain starting with updating our war-fighting doctrines to meet new threats to our security, preparation of appropriate staff quality requirements and creating a broad-based production and delivery infrastructure on the ground,'' he added.









Indian Air Force to launch hi-tech info grid today
fe Bureau Posted online: 2010-09-14 22:14:26+05:30  New DelhiThe Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to usher in a state-of-the-art digital information grid called Air Force Network (AFNET) on Tuesday that will replace the IAF’s old communication network set-up using the tropo-scatter technology of the 1950s. AFNET will generate increased combat power, improve situational awareness and act as a force multiplier for the IAF.  Companies including Cisco, HCL, BSNL and MTNL are part of this project. “The IAF has not imported any foreign technology for the new AFNET,” officials told FE.  This achievement also marks the successful clearance for release of radio spectrum. While the defence minister AK Antony will launch the AFNET services, telecom minister A Raja, minister of state for IT and communications Sachin Pilot along with the three defence services chiefs will also be present at the function.  The IAF project is part of the overall mission to network all three services.  The ministry of defence and the department of telecommunications (DoT) in 2009 had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to free radio spectrum by the defence forces over the next three years. The MoU entails vacation of spectrum by the defence forces once DoT built an alternative optical fibre cable (OFC) network for them.  “The defence forces have more than 40% of the spectrum that has been mandated for commercial mobile usage,” another official said requesting anonymity. In a bid to keep up with the demand for spectrum, which is a limited natural resource, MoD has agreed to shift part of its operations that run on spectrum to OFC to be built by BSNL and MTNL. The vacation will be done over a period of 37 months, according to the MoU.  BSNL and MTNL have been building an optical fibre cable for the IAF at an estimated cost of Rs 1,077 crore, which will be reimbursed by DoT. The IAF will then vacate around around 42.5 MHz of spectrum.  OFC for the Army and Navy is expected to cost Rs 8,893 crore. The proposals for the amount to be paid to BSNL by DoT for building OFC have to be approved by the Cabinet panel on economic affairs. The telcos will lay a total of 40,000 km of optical fibre to connect 219 Army stations, 33 Navy stations and 162 Air Force stations.











Army advises on caution on AFSPA withdrawal
13 Sep 2010, 1444 hrs IST Sources have told TIMES NOW that the Army has asked the Government to exercise caution while deciding on a course to either amend or withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) imposed in Jammu and Kashmir. The Army has suggested that Government consider amending the Disturbed Areas Act instead. The news comes hours ahead of a crucial Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting to discuss the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the Kashmir Valley.  The Army sources have also warned the Government that withdrawal of AFSPA may have an adverse effect on the morale of the forces.  The Army had even earlier made clear its reservations on this move clear, in private. Just before the CCS, it now wants the Government to consider that withdrawal of the AFSPA could lead to trouble and affect the Army's position in J&K operationally.  The sources point out that if the Government does decide to make a concession, it should amend the Disturbed Areas Act and that could be a beginning to take the pressure off the people in the region.  The other worry that has been conveyed is that the situation in the state has not been favourable since July this year and since it is obvious that the police and paramilitary jointly have been unable to deal with the situation, the Army is still sorely needed to maintain some semblance of order amidst the chaos and unrest. Thus, the AFSPA is also a need of the hour, say sources.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier today addressed the defence heads from across the country on various issues including violence-torn Kashmir, and appealed to all groups representing the region for peace.  With the government planning on 'gifting' the people of Kashmir with a Eid package to put an end to the spiraling violence in the state, the issue of the withdrawal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) is being widely debated upon. On pressure from Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, the Union Government this month started seriously mulling the withdrawal of AFSPA in the trouble-hit state.  The government has reiterated its promise to consider amendments to the act so as to make it more 'humane'. But there is a real worry that the violence on Eid and a day after could lead to a setback for any peace initiatives to be announced at a crucial Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting to discuss the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the Kashmir Valley.  Today's meeting would be the third Cabinet meeting on the Kashmir situation since the stone-pelting violence erupted in the Valley on June 11. The cycle of violence has led to frequent shutdowns and curfew in the Valley for the past three months. Curfew was clamped in more areas of the Kashmir Valley on Monday in view of incidents of violence in several parts and a protest march called by the separatists in Srinagar.  Addressing the defence chiefs at the Combined Commanders' meet in South Block, New Delhi today, the PM said: "Unrest in J&K is a matter of concern. The youth of Kashmir are our citizens and their grievances have to be addressed... We have to ensure better delivery of services and generate avenues for economic advancement for the people of that state... The Centre is willing to talk to every person or group which abjures violence, within the framework of our Constitution."  The Government hopes to calm the people down and quell the general notion that the Act is oppressive, by either pulling out AFSPA or modifying it and perhaps end the the cycle of violence.  The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), dates back to September 11, 1958, when the Parliament of India passed the act bestowing more power on the armed forces in "disturbed areas".  First introduced in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, the act was later extended to Jammu and Kashmir as the The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 in July 1990.





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