The Indian Army's top commander in Jammu and Kashmir has claimed that India would have to grant independence to the state by 2016, if the government repeals the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
The commander, Lieutenant-General Syed Ata Hasnain, of the Srinagar-based XV Corps, is reported to have made these comments on Wednesday, when addressing the State's coordination body for security, the Unified Headquarters.
Lt.Gen. Hasnain claimed that lifting the AFSPA would result in widespread chaos. Coupled with the enhanced presence of members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference on the United Nations Security Council, secession would prove inevitable.
According to reports, other security officials disputed his claimed however.
Special Director-General of the Central Reserve Police Force Aniruddh Uppal said there was no evidence to suggest an imminent revolt.
Inspector General of Police in-charge of the region S.M. Sahai said recent events such as the bombing of Delhi's High Court last month, and the violence over summer, indicated that future disturbances were more likely to arise from small groups of alienated young people and Islamist radicalism.
Last month, Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir, announced that the AFSPA was to be repealed in a phased programme.
The law - Armed Forces Special Powers Act - has been heavily criticised by human rights activists, for requires Home Ministry permission before officers can be prosecuted for acts committed whilst on duty in areas covered by the act. Permission is rarely granted, leading to rights activists accusing state officials of effectively sanctioning impunity amongst security forces.
Earlier this year, the mass graves of over 2700 civilians were unearthed in North Kashmir. India has been under pressure to investigate.
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‘Brutal’ occupation of Kashmir must end – Arundhati Roy (14 Nov 2011)
Kashmiris observe 64th Jammu Martyrs' Day (06 Nov 2011)