Kashmir leader pushes for partial removal of hated martial law

Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met with senior central government officials Monday to discuss the removal of the hated Armed Forces Special Powers Act from certain areas of the troubled region, NDTV reports.

Abdullah announced that AFSPA would be removed from some areas of the state over the next few days on Friday, in a move that came as an unpleasant surprise to the Defense Ministry, according to the news channel.

A high-level Central team, led by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, has met Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his top bureaucrats for the second day to discuss all issues including the proposed withdrawal of the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain areas.

Before meeting the Chief Minister, the Cabinet Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary had another round of discussion on the security scenario with Northern Army commander and his three Corps Commanders posted in Kashmir.

There were a series of meetings on Sunday as well with all stakeholders in Kashmir on development projects and a review of the security scenario with top Army commanders.

AFSPA is hated by the local population, as it abridges their rights as Indian citizens to grant security forces sweeping powers to detain suspects and search private homes, as well as granting serving security personnel near immunity from prosecution for killing civilians in the course of performing their duty.

Locals say this freedom from oversight has contributed to a large number of extrajudicial executions by the military -- sometimes referred to as "fake encounters" because locals say the murders are staged to look like fire fights between soldiers and insurgents.

Army personnel argue that the conditions of insurgency are such that its soldiers could not perform their duty without some measure of protection from civilian prosecution.