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Mehbooba asks Centre, militants to ceasefire during Ramazan

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Srinagar, May 04: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday appealed the Centre and the militants to announce ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir for the Muslim fasting month of Ramazan so that the “people get some relief”.

“The month of Ramazan is starting after a couple of days and so, I appeal the Government of India that ours is a Muslim-majority state and people here are facing difficulties.

“It is a month of prayer and so I request them (Centre) to announce a ceasefire like the last year so that crackdowns, search operations and encounters are stopped and people get some relief,” the former chief minister told reporters here.

She also asked the militants to stop attacks on security forces.

“I also want to tell militants that they should understand that this blessed month is a month of prayer and repentance and so they should not carry out any attacks in this month,” she said.

Ramazan is likely to commence from Monday or Tuesday.

Recollecting how a ceasefire during Ramazan in 2018 had given much-needed relief to the people of the state, Mehbooba emphasized the need of repetition of similar gesture in order to give people sense of peace and security in the holy month.

“We have seen a muscular and military approach of the government gaining momentum in the state for some time now. Such an atmosphere of curbs, confrontation and harassment must go in order to give people relief in the auspicious month like we had done during last Ramazan,” she added.

The Union government had in May last year directed security forces not to launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir during Ramazan to help Muslims observe the holy month in a “peaceful environment”. Mehbooba was at that time heading a PDP-BJP coalition government in the state and had requested the Centre to announce the ceasefire.

However, the ceasefire was ended by the Centre exactly after a month as militant attacks continued during the period. Soon after the BJP withdrew support to the PDP.

Mehbooba said Ramazam ceasefire would be an opportunity for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prove that he was following former prime minister A B Vajpayee’s policy of “Insaniyat’, Jamhooriyat’ and Kashmiriyat”.

“Modi keeps on saying that he wants to follow Vajpayee’s policy of insaniyat, jhamooriyat and Kashmiriyat and I feel that announcing a Ramazan ceasefire will be the biggest proof of democracy and humanity,” she said.

The former chief minister said while elections were going on in the country, the Centre has turned Jammu and Kashmir “into a battlefield” and slammed decisions like ban on Jamaat-e-Islami and JKLF, suspension of cross-LoC trade and the closure of highway for civilian traffic for two days a week.

The PDP president said since the elections started, youths have been arrested “in the name of stone-pelting” especially from south Kashmir where from she is contesting the Lok Sabha polls.

Flaying the government for its “coercive policies against the people” of the state, Mehbooba asked for an immediate end to the “crackdown unleashed in Kashmir”.

“People are being pushed to the wall as the space for peaceful democratic dissent is being chocked. This is bound to have undesired consequences,” she said.

“Hundreds of youth have been detained in south Kashmir over last few days. When an ordinary Kashmiri is subjected to such harassment, how does this approach translate into Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat and how are we paving way for the reconciliation?” she asked.

Asked if anti-militancy operations like the one on Friday in Shopian, in which three militants were killed, would have any impact on the polling in the two districts of Shopian and Pulwama in the last leg of the three-phased polls in the Anantnag parliamentary constituency, Mehbooba said “naturally, it will have an impact”.

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