Press Trust of india

Ceasefire Debate: HM to talk to CM on ceasefire appeal

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Lucknow/New Delhi, May 10: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today that while he had not been directly apprised of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s appeal for a unilateral ceasefire during Ramzan, he will talk to her about it.

“I have not held direct talks with her on the issue but I have got this information…I will talk to her after going to New Delhi,” Singh told reporters at the sidelines of an event organised by the BSF on the outskirts of the state capital.

He was asked to comment on J&K chief minister’s appeal to the Centre to consider a unilateral ceasefire starting from Ramzan in mid-May till the completion of the Amarnath Yatra in August.

To a question on a tourist from Chennai being killed in stone pelting in Kashmir, Singh said it was “most unfortunate”. “The incident of a tourist dying due to stone pelting is most unfortunate…everyone is condemning it,” he said.

Meanwhile, The Centre seems not too keen about initiating a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir as of now as the “situation is not conducive” and such an exercise in 2000 did not give the desired results, officials said here.

They said there was no guarantee that the Pakistan-based militant groups would reciprocate if the Centre agrees to the State government’s request for a ceasefire.

Recalling the Non-Initiation of  Combat Operations (NICO), announced by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee in 2000, a senior government functionary said there was a major militant attack at the Srinagar airport during the crucial four-month period 18 years ago, and the announcement of such a decision now may be termed as a “weakness” in the current situation in the state.

“Almost all terrorists groups operating in the valley in 2000 had rejected the government offer. Many still recall that during the four-month period, terrorists were roaming freely in Kashmir. Is there any guarantee that such a situation would not repeat now?” the official said requesting anonymity.

Six militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba had attacked the Srinagar airport when the ceasefire was in force in 2000 in which two government forces’ personnel and two civilians were killed. All six militants were also killed in the retaliatory action.

Another official described the prevailing situation in Kashmir Valley as “turbulent” where nearly 80 incidents of violence occurred in last four months and civilians were often seen coming out to encounter sites to stage protests with the intention of giving the militants an opportunity to escape.

Under such circumstances, announcement of a ceasefire may be seen as “weakness” on the part of the government, the official said and cited a series of militant attacks  including the killing of eight Amarnath pilgrims last year.

The official, however, asserted that it would be a political decision and would be taken at the highest level of the government.

After an all-party meeting, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that the Central government should consider a unilateral ceasefire in the state starting from Ramzan in mid-May till the completion of the Amarnath Yatra in August.

“Everyone (all parties) agreed that we should appeal to the Centre to consider a ceasefire like the unilateral ceasefire in (former PM Atal Bihari) Vajpayee’s time in Ramzan (later this month) till Amarnath yatra and Eid,” she said.

Mehbooba said a ceasefire would provide relief to the people and help create a better atmosphere in the state.

“The Centre should think on these lines so that the common people get some relief because they are facing many difficulties due of encounters, crackdowns and search operations,” she said.

The Valley has witnessed the killing of over 55 militants including at least 27 locals this year.

 BJP opposes demand for Ramzan ceasefire

Jammu, May 10 (PTI) BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit today opposed Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s call for a unilateral ceasefire during the month of Ramzan till completion of the Amarnath Yatra claiming such a step was not at all in “national interest”.

The party’s state unit said “militants are demoralised due to army action and a unilateral ceasefire would ease pressure and allow them to re-energise”.

Referring to an all party meeting held yesterday, BJP state unit’s chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi said an opinion came up during the discussion for a unilateral ceasefire on the lines of one declared by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

“We have a strong view…Unilateral ceasefire in the present situation is not in national interest at all,” he added.

Flanked by another BJP spokesperson Arun Gupta, Sethi said the militant leadership in Kashmir Valley was “under pressure” because of the prolonged efforts of the Army.

“There are large-scale casualties of militants taking place on daily basis. Currently militants are holed up. They are under pressure,” he said.

“The raising of the demand for unilateral ceasefire is aimed to give a way out to the demoralised militants, ease pressure, and to save them,” he said.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who heads the PDP-BJP government in the state, had said Centre should consider a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir starting from Ramzan in mid May till the completion of the Amarnath Yatra in August.

She made the remarks after a four-hour all-party meeting, which was convened to discuss the situation in the Kashmir Valley especially after a tourist from Chennai was killed in stone pelting on May 07.

Speaking here today, Sethi said the State BJP was not at all of this opinion. He also emphasised that a call for a unilateral ceasefire was not a unanimous decision at the meeting. The issue was raised by Independent MLA Engineer Rashid , Sethi claimed.

There was no debate on it and BJP did not agree to it, he told reporters here.

“Our point is clear that pressure created by army on the terrorists should continue along with ‘operation all out’ and to a large extent listed militants have been eliminated and only few among them are active,” Sethi said.

“The way the ‘operation all out’ is continuing, soon all militants will be wiped out from Kashmir,” he said.

It was a different time and situation when a unilateral ceasefire was undertaken by the then Vajpayee government on the borders and in the hinterland, he said.

The BJP spokesperson said militancy was in its “last phase” and it would be not a wise decision to go for a unilateral ceasefire.

“Kashmir will return to peace and normalcy in the same way as the peace and normalcy prevailed in Punjab,” he said.

On stone pelting in Kashmir, Sethi said there were “stone pelting units” operating from Shopian to Baramulla in Kashmir. “They keep moving from place to place to engineer stone pelting on army and paramilitary forces,” he said.

He said relaxation of any type at this stage will mean stepping back on the process of restoration of normalcy in Kashmir. “Today’s stone-pelter is a potential terrorist of tomorrow. We will not agree or buy any argument that the hands of army should be tied,” he added.

Taking a dig at the withdrawal of FIRs against “first-time stone-pelters”, the BJP leader said government did not achieve the desired results.

“First-time stone-pelters continue to resort to stone-pelting and have not stopped pelting stones post-amnesty. It is a serious issue and we need to review the amnesty scheme,” he said.


Omar targets Mehbooba over ceasefire proposal

Srinagar, May 10: National Conference (NC) working president Omar Abdullah hit out at the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today, saying she would “shamelessly cling to power” even as her party’s alliance partner BJP did not agree with her.

Omar was reacting to the reports that BJP had not agreed to the proposal that the Centre should consider a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir starting from Ramzan in mid-May till the completion of the Amarnath Yatra in August.

The proposal was announced by the Chief Minister after an all-party meeting yesterday.

Mehbooba had said all parties agreed that there should be a ceasefire.

“We didn’t agree to Ramzan ceasefire in the all-party meet. There was no consensus on sending an all-party delegation to meet PM,” BJP chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi said in Jammu.

Taking to Twitter, Omar said, “What was the point of @MehboobaMufti calling an all party meeting to build a consensus around initiatives in Kashmir when her ally in the Govt doesn’t agree with her! Yet she will shamelessly cling to power because that’s all that matters to her.”

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