Govt for consensus to amend AFSPA: Chidambaram

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NEW DELHI, Sep 1 (IANS): The government is trying to build a consensus to amend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives the armed forces legal immunity for their actions, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Thursday.

`I am trying to revisit AFSPA but as you know one needs to build a consensus within the government before amendments can be brought before parliament,` Chidambaram told reporters.

AFSPA enables security forces to shoot at sight and arrest anybody without a warrant if an area is declared disturbed. It is applicable only in Jammu and Kashmir and in the northeastern states.

Talking about removal of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir, Chidambaram said: `At operational level, the state would have to have the unified command review the application of Disturbed Areas Act.`

`If they are able to lift the Disturbed Areas Act then AFSPA won`t be applicable in the state. So that is something that they have to do. I am in touch with the chief minister and he has to weigh the pros and cons and then decide when to do it,` he added.

AFSPA was passed in 1990 to grant special powers and immunity from prosecution to security forces to deal with raging insurgencies in northeastern states and in Jammu and Kashmir. The Act is a target for local human rights groups and international campaigners such as Amnesty International.

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