Army chief against diluting AFSPA

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS) Indian Army chief Gen Bikram Singh Monday said he did not favour dilution of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir as it was "an enabler" for soldiers to fight militancy in an asymmetric environment.

Answering a query on AFPSA at his press conference on eve of the Army Day, Bikram Singh said that soliders in the state work in an environment where it was difficult to differentiate between friend and foe as militants mingle with civilian population.

He said the soldiers face a great deal of challenges and they need to be given "enablers" to operate against militants.

"These are enablers. They give additional powers," he said.

"There should not be dilution of AFPSA."

The army chief stressed that any decision to on AFPSA must be taken after taking views of all stakeholders.

To a question about Siachen, Bikram Singh said the area was of strategic significance and should be held by the country.

He said that Army had shed blood to retain the area and gains made should be retained.

Bikram Singh said any thought to demilitarization of the area had to be given in the backdrop of trust deficit with Pakistan.

"It has to be conscious, pragmatic decision," he said.