Cornered Mehbooba Mufti puts the ball in the Centre’s court, demands ‘unilateral’ ceasefire in Kashmir during Ramadan, Amarnath yatra.
After failing to contain the fast deteriorating security situation in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has once again pushed the ball in the centres’ court by making a passionate appeal to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce ‘unilateral’ ceasefire ahead of the holy month of Ramadaan and Amarnath yatra.
The announcement was made by the Chief Minister after attending an all parties meeting in Srinagar where leaders belonging to different political parties gave their feedback and suggestions on how to tackle the prevailing situation which is going from bad to worse with increasing incidents of stone pelting and random killing of political workers, civilians in different parts of Kashmir valley.
However, the timing of the announcement by the Chief Minister assumes far greater significance as it comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state on May 19.
BJP headquarters chief spokesman Sunil Sethi stressed that a call for a unilateral ceasefire was not a unanimous decision at the meeting.
Ironically when the Chief Minister was attending the all party’s meeting in Srinagar the Kashmir University campus was witnessing another ‘provocative’ protest demonstration where a large number of students were joined by some faculty members who had captured the precincts of Department of Sociology and hoisted Pakistani flags amid Pro-Pak and anti-India sloganeering.
The students were protesting against the killing of Associate Professor Rafi Bhat by the joint team of security forces in an encounter in Shopian.
BJP opposes demand for a unilateral ceasefire
A day after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti urged the centre to announce ‘unilateral’ ceasefire ahead of holy month of Ramadan and Amarnath yatra in Kashmir valley the state BJP leaders Thursday opposed the decision claiming it was not in national interest to do so at this juncture when army has established its supremacy over militant outfits by neutralising their top commanders.
Addressing a press conference here in BJP headquarters chief spokesman Sunil Sethi told reporters, “during the all parties meeting only a suggestion came up 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 the national interest at all,” he added.
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 the army should be tied,” he added.
Sethi said militants were demoralised due to Army action and a unilateral ceasefire would ease pressure and allow them to regroup.
He again clarified the state BJP was not at all of this opinion. He also stressed 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.
“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 a few among them are active,” Sethi said.
At this juncture, the security forces cannot afford to call off their operations as they are moving closer to eliminating leftover top commanders active in the area.
Compared to previous years the current security situation in Kashmir valley is worrisome as there has been no let up from the Pakistani side to fuel unrest in Kashmir valley.
Total incidents of ceasefire violations and infiltration bids from across the border are on the rise and prevailing security situation in the hinterland is not conducive for a unilateral announcement of the ceasefire in the hinterland.
In the recent months, National Investigation Agency (NIA) may have achieved major successes in preventing the flow of hawala money in Kashmir valley and putting all those behind bars who were controlling this stone pelting in exchange of making money yet the ground situation is alarming.
It is no political secret that both Peoples Democratic Party and Bharatiya Janta Party hold divergent viewpoints on how to tackle the current security situation on ground zero.
In the recent months by adopting hot pursuit against the local militant commanders the security forces have consolidated their position in the hinterland and at this juncture, they cannot afford to call off their operations as they are moving closer to eliminating leftover top commanders active in the area.
Involvement of more and more local militants and fresh recruitment is another worry on the minds of the security forces who are waiting for the next opportunity to neutralise a large number of active militants in the valley.
At present, the state BJP leadership cannot afford to take a soft stand and support Mehbooba Mufti on this issue as the already poor handling of Kathua rape and murder case has eroded party’s voter base and credibility to a large extent.
Fresh assessment reports suggested that close to 500-600 heavily armed terrorists were waiting to sneak inside the Indian territory
However, the state BJP leaders continue to face criticism from different quarters as they perceive that PDP is treating them as a rubber stamp and dictating their own political agenda without caring for their core constituency.
Poor handling of the ground situation especially circumstances leading to the attack on ‘tourist bus’ which resulted in the innocent killing of a tourist hailing from Chennai has already dented the image of the state government and may impact tourist arrivals in the state in the coming weeks.
On the security front without taking the feedback from the army authorities and various other central and state intelligence agencies the decision to announce unilateral ceasefire may backfire and lead to further worsening of the situation.
As of now the security forces are hunting down terrorists and neutralising them in clinical operations across most active areas of South Kashmir yet there is no let up from the Pakistani side.
Fresh assessment reports suggested that close to 500-600 heavily armed terrorists were waiting across different launching pads to sneak inside the Indian territory to launch terror strikes on the Indian soil.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.