Ramzan ceasefire in Kashmir: Separatists, mainstream parties say the experiment failed to yield any results
A Hurriyat leader said the Ramzan ceasefire in Kashmir was not enough as the government had not taken any ground-level initiatives.
Even as the Government of India is discussing whether to extend the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, both separatist groups and mainstream political parties have said that the suspension of 'non-initiation of combat operations' in Jammu and Kashmir has failed to yield any results.
The chairman of the Hurriyat Conference — a conglomerate of pro-Pakistan political parties in Kashmir — said that the ceasefire in itself was not a solution and would not "bring any respite unless coupled with serious initiatives to address the Kashmir conflict." "We have sought clarity from the Government of India as far as engagement is concerned," Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, adding that the Hurriyat was not against dialogue, but it is key that the process involves the three parties — India, Pakistan and Kashmir.
Farooq also said that the government had not taken any ground-level initiatives, because of which the army and police had continued to harass residents in Kashmir despite the ceasefire, "people's houses were ransacked", "there has been no change in approach" and no respite from the military. He suggested bringing in confidence-building measures, such as withdrawing of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, to make a difference.
A top Hurriyat leader asserted that measures must be taken along the lines of concrete political steps. "There has to be acknowledgement of the contours if there is engagement," he said. "During the tenure of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, talks were not within the ambit of the Indian Constitution but within the framework of humanity. It was a process. India was talking to the Hurriyat and Pakistan as well, and Pakistan was allowed to talk to the Hurriyat too. That is missing now. Just harping about the ceasefire is not going to make any difference. Even with the ceasefire in place, people are getting killed, pellet guns are being used, tear gas shells continue to be used, and we have lost two boys in 24 hours.”
A spokesperson of the Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar, said: "When was there a ceasefire? Where was the ceasefire on ground? We have not witnessed it at all. It was just an eyewash."
However, a former MLA and senior leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that violence had dropped drastically during the month of Ramzan. Nizamudin Bhat said the experiment to enforce a ceasefire had not failed, though it had "not yielded any results". "It is a process that needs to be continued," he said. "The ceasefire has given some relief to the common man...though government forces remain on tenterhooks, and the cycle of violence has yet to end."
The PDP leader added that "if the ceasefire is linked with confidence-building measures and certain political initiatives, which can help bring about reconciliation in Kashmir, the idea was workable". However, he warned that if the government revokes the ceasefire, "it will be deemed an isolated act and not part of a process that is desired".
A spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party, Altaf Ahmad Thakur, said the ceasefire had helped the militants who were behind the violence in Srinagar. "Although there has been some respite from violence, and the number of youth getting pellet and bullet injuries has dropped, militant activities have gained momentum," Thakur said.
A chief BJP spokesperson said the Government of India would take into consideration "the overall security situation in Kashmir before deciding on the extension of the ceasefire". "The decision has to come from the Government of India based on the review of the overall security scenario," he said.
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