Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on Congress, stating its election manifesto promising to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) is 'anti-national and separatist-friendly' and it will dilute the immunity of security forces.
Addressing a press conference here, Sitharaman said: "Is this right that the Congress party's manifesto promises amendments in the AFSPA? Their promise is anti-national and separatist-friendly, which is an effort to weaken the armed forces. They are trying to dilute the immunity of our security forces."
"Armed forces of our country are putting their best foot forward to protect us. Why should one presume that the powers of security forces are against human rights? Such promises will destroy and finish the morale of armed forces and limit powers of a district magistrate. On one side, Congress said they want to bring the status of martyrs to all armed forces people but on the other, they promised changes in the AFSPA," she added.
Sitharaman advised Congress to first improve the law and order situation in Jammu & Kashmir before thinking of amending AFSPA. "Removal of AFSPA is possible if the law and order is at place. But they want to tweak it, only opening windows of little opportunities for those sitting and writing those complaints to put anything as torture or enforced disappearance and sexual violations. By exempting these, who are you helping? Instead, why don't you work to make the situation better when you can withdraw it in total?" she said.
"If you (Congress) want to remove the AFSPA, there is a system for it. The BJP has removed the AFSPA from Assam. It was the BJP who has shown it can be removed. But Congress manifesto on removing AFSPA will have a negative effect. It will be interpreted as being in favour of anti-nationals and separatists," she added.
Speaking on the sedition law, Sitharaman asserted and said "Congress manifesto is going in a direction which is dangerous for the country. They are talking about removing sedition laws. One must ask Congress if it is right to amend it and who are they trying to help?"
She also questioned why there was no mention of giving martyr status to jawans in the manifesto, after the ghastly Pulwama attack.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had said that the paramilitary personnel who are killed in the line of duty will be accorded with "martyr" status if his party comes into power.
"After the ghastly Pulwama attack, Congress had said they will give martyr status to the jawans, then why it is not in their manifesto?" she asked.
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