//National Conference wants anti-terror laws scrapped

National Conference wants anti-terror laws scrapped

Press Trust of India

Srinagar, November 1, 2006

Expressing concern at the growing number of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding repeal of laws that give special powers to security personnel.

The letter was written by National Conference president Omar Abdullah a week after he announced the suspension of his party's participation in working groups constituted after the second roundtable conference on Kashmir chaired by the Prime Minister in May.

"We were happy when the Prime Minister announced zero tolerance for human rights violations (after the second roundtable). We waited but it seems to be an endless wait… When we talk about human rights violations, we are asked to check our past record," he said.

Abdullah said laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and Disturbed Areas Act need to be scrapped as they shielded security personnel guilty of rights violations.

About his decision to not participate in the working groups, Abdullah said, "Human rights violations have increased manifold and it will not be appropriate for us to continue in these committees as the Centre has failed continuously in ensuring zero human rights violations."

He said the other reason to suspend participation in the working groups was the lack of seriousness on the part of the Centre to constitute a group dealing with political aspects of the Kashmir issue.

However, he said his party would consider returning to the groups only when the ground situation showed improvement.