Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir disappointed by Centre's decision to not extend suspension of anti-terrorist operations
There was speculation that the Centre would extend the order beyond Ramzan.
Srinagar: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday described as "disappointing" the Centre's announcement to not extend the suspension of operations against terrorists in the state, blaming the Centre and the state government for not making it effective.
"It is disappointing but not entirely an unexpected development," said Junaid Mattu, spokesperson for the state's main Opposition party, National Conference (NC).
Mattu said the central government should have done some necessary back channel work for the 'non-initiation of combat operations' to be effective. "We welcomed the decision to announce the ceasefire, and we had expected the decision to have been made after due application of mind and with the necessary back channel work," he said. "That turned out not to be the case, and the recent developments, including the tragic assassination of (veteran journalist and Rising Kashmir editor) Shujaat Bukhari made this decision inevitable."
The NC spokesperson said the "failure" of the Centre's unilateral decision was the "collective failure" of the state and central governments and a loss for all those who believe in a peaceful resolution to the "Kashmir's political issue".
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that while the party was also disappointed, there was very little it could do as peace is a two-way traffic. "Peace is a two-way traffic, it is not one way," PDP General Secretary Peerzada Mansoor said. "We tried everything from our side. Is there any CBM (confidence-building measure) that we or (chief minister) Mehbooba Mufti did not work on? Stone-pelters were given amnesty; their cases, in thousands, were revoked, even those who were booked in 2010 by the then NC government. There was a dialogue process. Even the Union home minister mentioned talks with the Hurriyat by taking their name. What else could we have done?"
"You can lead a horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink," he added. "Ceasefire happened after many years. Last time it happened, the government was opposed to that. We called for an all-party meet this time when there was consensus. Then Mehbooba Mufti initiated it. We are grateful that the prime minister honoured it. Then the home minister announced it."
"You saw how death and destruction stopped during Ramzan, except for one boy who came under a forces vehicle. People heaved a sigh of relief. You travel to Pulwama or Shopian and see. But see the situation in the last few days. What happened to Bukhari. How he was mercilessly killed. What can we do?" Mansoor said, adding that the situation in the Valley had left the ruling party with no choice.
Criticising the separatists for setting pre-conditions for talks, the PDP leader said engagement would be in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir and its people. "They could also have constituted a team. If the Centre has constituted a team (special representative Dineshwar Sharma), let them also form a team. But there should be engagement so that people are saved from death and destruction. What can we do, where will we go? Kashmir is burning because of these things," he said.
Mansoor said that while the party was disappointed by the Centre's decision, the situation was such that the so-called ceasefire could not have been extended. However, he said the party has not lost hope. "We are hopeful that a better sense will prevail. Let them tell us what Mehbooba Mufti should do, we are ready to do that," he said.
The president of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC), GA Mir said the BJP-led government at the Centre did not have any clear policy or roadmap on the Kashmir conflict. He said that while all mainstream political parties in Jammu and Kashmir had pitched for a ceasefire in the state during in the holy month of Ramzan, the Centre's decision to revoke it was made unilaterally.
"They have never tried to take on board mainstream parties for a national consensus. So even today's decision is a unilateral one. They have not kept in mind that Kashmir is a sensitive issue and consensus is needed to be built at the country or parliamentary level, where some other opinion could have come up or a direction could have been taken where other people would have contributed. Therefore, this decision was made unilaterally," Mir said.
He said there was some effect of the ceasefire on the ground in the Valley, which his party also appreciated. "Especially in the month of Ramzan, people got respite from sudden crackdowns and search operations, which (otherwise) disturbed the situation. There was definitely a difference (in the situation). Now, whether they have assessed that angle or not, we do not know. Whether they asked the state government for their opinion or not as they were also monitoring it, and did they take their coalition partner on board or not, nobody knows," he said.
The JKPCC president asked chief minister Mufti to come clean on the decision. Mir said the effect of the Centre's direction to security forces to resume operations against militants "will show in a few days' time as to which level the situation will head to". "How the situation plays out now, the responsibility of that will lie on the central government as well as on Mehbooba Mufti," the Congress leader said.
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