Kashmir: New Delhi unlikely to call for ceasefire

Kashmir: New Delhi unlikely to call for ceasefire
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Officials say the offer might be seen as ‘weakness’

New Delhi: The BJP-led government appears not keen about initiating a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir as proposed by the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during All-party meeting at Srinagar a day ago because of the past experience.
The government of India has apprehensions that the situation is not conducive and such an exercise in 2000 did not give the desired results, officials said here.
They said there was no guarantee that militants outfits would reciprocate if the Centre agrees to the state government’s request for a ceasefire.
Recalling the Non Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO), announced by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee in 2000, a senior government functionary said there was a major militant attack at the Srinagar airport during the crucial four-month period 18 years ago, and the announcement of such a decision now may be termed as a “weakness” in the current situation in the state.
“Almost all terrorists groups operating in the valley in 2000 had rejected the government offer. Many still recall that during the four-month period, terrorists were roaming freely in Kashmir. Is there any guarantee that such a situation would not repeat now,” the official pleading anonymity told PTI.
Six militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba had attacked the Srinagar airport when the ceasefire was in force in 2000 in which two security personnel and two civilians were killed. All six militants were also killed in the retaliatory firing.
Another official described the prevailing situation in Kashmir valley as “turbulent” where nearly 80 incidents of violence occurred in last four months and civilians were often seen coming out to encounter sites to stage protests with the intention of giving the militants an opportunity to escape.
Under such circumstances, announcement of a ceasefire may be seen as “weakness” on the part of the government, the official said and cited a series of brazen militant attacks including the killing of eight Amarnath yatries last year.
The official, however, asserted that it would be a political decision and would be taken at the highest level of the government.
After an all-party meeting, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that the central government should consider a unilateral ceasefire in the state starting from Ramzan in mid-May till the completion of the Amarnath yatra in August.
“Everyone (all parties) agreed that we should appeal to the Centre to consider a ceasefire like the unilateral ceasefire in (former PM Atal Bihari) Vajpayee’s time in Ramzan (later this month) till Amarnath yatra and Eid,” she said.
Mehbooba said a ceasefire would provide relief to the people and help create a better atmosphere in the state.
“The Centre should think on these lines so that the common people get some relief because they are facing many difficulties due of encounters, crackdowns and search operations,” she said.
The valley has witnessed the killing of over 55 militants including at least 27 locals this year.

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