Yawar HussainSrinagar, May 16:
The announcement of “conditional ceasefire” by New Delhi during the holy month of Ramadan evoked mixed response of the civil society.
While the civil society activists in the Valley expressed pessimism about it without initiation of dialogue with separatists and Islamabad, their counterparts in India exhibited optimism and expressed hope that the militant groups and stone-pelting youth reciprocate to New Delhi’s gesture.
Government of India Wednesday declared a conditional ceasefire in Jammu Kashmir during the holy month of Ramadan saying that the decision was taken as it was important to isolate the forces that bring a bad name to Islam by resorting to mindless violence and terror.
Former interlocutor M M Ansari while terming the ceasefire announcement as a welcome move said the catch behind the move was that it had been announced by the Union Home Minister who does not command the Defence Ministry.
“It still remains to be seen whether the defence forces would follow the Union Home Ministry’s directive and also the Prime Minister’s Office which handles J&K Affairs hasn’t made this announcement,” he said.
Ansari said it would have been better if Prime Minister NarendraModi would have himself made the announcement on 19 May when he is scheduled to visit the State.
He said he was hopeful that the ceasefire announcement would not be a mere public relations exercise for creating a congenial atmosphere before the Prime Minister’s visit.
“I hope Kashmiri youth also reciprocate to this welcome gesture,” he said.
Former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief, Amar Singh Dulat said the assertions about the Home Minister not being the final voice on matters like the ceasefire were rubbish.
“Every wing of the security and defence forces have to abide by the announcement,” he said. “The separatists and Pakistan should respond to the call.”
Dulat said the Hurriyat and other separatist organisations should stop political rhetoric of casting aspersions on such positive steps being initiated by Government of India.
“Common people will get respite during this month and it can be a start of a concrete process,” he said.
Dulat said Kashmiri people should grab the window of opportunity in the holy month of Ramadan.
Earlier, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had proposed GoI to announce a ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramadan and Amarnathyatra.
Announcing a conditional ceasefire, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asked the government forces not to launch operation against militants during the holy month.
Legal and human rights expert, ShiekhShowkatHussain said to him the entire process seems a public relations exercise as was the case in 2000 when a unilateral exercise was announced.
He said there was ambiguity around the nature of ceasefire as it did not address either the Hurriyat or Pakistan.
Hussain said why would Hurriyat respond or welcome it and the same was true about Pakistan.
“If the Defence Minister would have announced it then there might have been a ceasefire on the Line of Control to which Pakistan might have responded,” he said.
Hussain said it seems that it might be a prelude to a comprehensive process that one could not guess as yet.
“They have only announced stopping operations against the militants,” he said.
Radha Kumar, the former interlocutor, said the ceasefire was desperately needed in the Valley adding that even the 2000 ceasefire had an impact on the positive development that followed it.
She said the international community’s pressure had then led to talks between India and Pakistan and also talks with the separatists.
“All the processes were a result of the 2000 unilateral ceasefire,” Radha said.
Rights activist and Coordinator Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), KhurramParvez said the ceasefire announcement had been deflated by the divergent statements of the Home Minister on one side and the Defense Minister on the other.
“Defense Minister has not welcomed the idea and on the ground, even today, there was a crackdown in Shopian where civilians have been injured,” he said. “What should we make of it.”
Parvez said it seemed Government of India was itself divided on the issue as in the case of interlocutor, Dineshwar Sharma, whose mandate was debunked by rightwing politicians just days after his appointment.
He said everybody should see the ground situation rather than announcing ceasefire on social media sites.
Supreme Court lawyer, Ashok Bhan said the enraged and agitating youth of the Valley should reciprocate the gesture as peace-loving Kashmiris would get a respite.
“Kashmiris of all hues should welcome it because it will kick start real peace initiative in Kashmir,” he said.
Bhan said this would facilitate a rethink of ‘Operation All Out’ as there would be a halt on anti-militancy operations.
He said people of all shades including separatists should welcome it.
Bhan said he believes the borders would also be quite during the month-long ceasefire while the Army chiefs on both sides might also talk to each other.
Civil society activist, Shakeel Qalander said on the political front, he does not see any light at the end of the tunnel.
“If they want a solution then they should initiate dialogue as ceasefire alone won’t help,” he said.