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‘Nothing should be done to weaken the armed forces'

Smita Gupta

New Delhi: Congress representatives from Jammu and Kashmir met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to impress on him that the Centre must first help bring peace to the valley before discussing any development package with the people.

The over 50 member-strong delegation, led by Udhampur M.P. Chaudhury Lal Singh, told the Prime Minister that it was opposed to withdrawing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state, as the need of the hour was to strengthen the security forces in the valley.

It may be recalled that the beleaguered Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, had suggested withdrawing the AFSPA from Kashmir. Mr. Lal Singh told TheHindu, that “At this stage, the most important thing is to restore peace, and for that nothing should be done to weaken the armed forces, such as withdrawing the AFSPA. It is not the time to speak of packages, as people are in no mood to accept them.”

The delegation also met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Union Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday.

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