Srinagar: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti would face an uphill task in convincing the Government of India (GoI) to consider a ceasefire in the month of Ramazan. It is likely that she would be told instead to convince the militants first.
According to top government sources, the ground situation in the Valley is not “feasible” for a ceasefire, as it would result in “emboldening” the militants. The militant ranks in the Valley have surged with more than 40 Kashmiri youth signing up in the first four months of this year, despite Operation All-out having killed 49 militants in this time.
A source said that the GoI would likely tell Mehbooba to first convince militants and separatists for such a ceasefire.
On May 9, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had chaired an all-party meeting in Srinagar after which she said that all the political parties agreed to ask the GoI to consider a ceasefire during the month of Ramazan and for the period of the Amarnath Yatra. Mehbooba also said that an all-party delegation would go to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Within 24 hours of Mehbooba’s announcement, her alliance partner BJP opposed any ceasefire, terming it against “national interest”. This has put the PDP in a tight spot and sources say that the party has now adopted a “cautious” approach in moving ahead with its proposal.
There is also “apprehension” that opposition parties may pull out of the planned all-party delegation, a senior PDP functionary told Kashmir Reader.
Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Omar Abdullah’s mocking of Mehbooba for her ceasefire suggestion being rejected by her own ally in the government has indicated that Abdullah’s National Conference may not join the all-party delegation to New Delhi.
“We haven’t agreed to be part of the delegation. We clearly told in the meeting that we have to consult our leadership and we will convey our decision later,” said National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, who was representing the party in the meeting.
The NC has not yet decided, Sagar said. “It is a question mark on the chief minister as to why she failed to carry along the BJP (on the ceasefire suggestion). What for are they together then?” Sagar asked.
The PDP believes its alliance partner has its own “compulsions” but the PDP would continue to ask it to consider a ceasefire. “A delegation of all-party members will go to New Delhi soon,” said PDP spokesperson Rafi Mir.
The BJP would stridently stand against a unilateral ceasefire, as according to BJP vice president and in-charge of Kashmir affairs Avinash Rai Khanna, the Mehbooba Mufti government should first tell militants and separatists to call for a truce. “What is a ceasefire? It should happen from both sides…. Taali ek haath se nai bajti hai (One does not clap with one hand),” he told Kashmir Reader.
“If militants and separatists respect Ramazan, they should end violence. Our first priority is law and order. If militants hurl grenades on security forces, what will they do in a ceasefire situation? We won’t tolerate that,” he added.
A source said that Mehbooba would chair the meeting of the Unified High Command on Saturday to get first-hand appraisal about the situation from top security officials. The ceasefire would be part of the discussion in the meeting.