GoI announces ‘conditional’ Ramazan ceasefire

GoI announces ‘conditional’ Ramazan ceasefire
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All mainstream parties welcome decision

SRINAGAR: The Government of India on Wednesday announced a “conditional ceasefire” in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramazan. The decision, according to a communiqué, has been taken to help “Muslims” observe Ramazan peacefully.
Government forces have been told to not launch combat operations during the next thirty days. The government, however, said that the forces reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people.
On May 9, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had asked New Delhi to consider a “unilateral ceasefire” starting from Ramazan till the completion of the Amarnath Yatra in August. Mehbooba had made the appeal after chairing an all-party meeting.
Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh for announcing the ceasefire, Mehbooba expressed gratitude to all the parties who participated in the all-party Meeting on May 9. “I wholeheartedly welcome the Ramadan ceasefire & would like to thank @narendramodi ji & @rajnathsingh ji for their personal intervention. My gratitude also to the leaders & parties who participated in the All Party Meeting & helped build consensus towards this announcement,” she tweeted.
The main opposition party, National Conference, also welcomed the decision terming it as a “great step”.
“It is a great step forward. I would like to congratulate Home Minister Rajnath Singh & PM Modi,” the patron of National Conference Dr Farooq Abdullah said.
He said the decision reminded him of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s era when he announced a “unilateral ceasefire”. “I welcome this,” Dr Abdullah said.
National Conference provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani said that the other side should also reciprocate to the ceasefire and all possibilities for dialogue with all stakeholders should be explored immediately.
Peoples Democratic Party spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir hailed the political vision and strength of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in pursuing the union government to announce this “major” confidence-building measure. Mir said the announcement of ceasefire will go a long way in restoring peace in the valley. Mir said the PDP’s firm resolve of peace through reconciliation is a tested political way forward that has served the interests of the people and said this is another ray of hope that the party sees for a peaceful valley.
Mir said that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has emerged as a strong leader with conviction who has fought for the aspirations of her people. Mir also thanked all the parties who spoke in unison to demand the Ramazan ceasefire.
The J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) while welcoming the decision emphasised that all sides should put in strenuous efforts to restore peace in the Valley.
A spokesperson of the party said he hoped that this initiative would go a long way in restoring confidence of the people.
Welcoming the decision, CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami hoped that not only for this month, violence will end forever and the ceasefire will help initiate a meaningful dialogue process.
“Political backup and political dialogue with dissenting voices and Pakistan is a must for success of this initiative. The political leadership needs to back up ceasefire proposals as perhaps the previous such announcements failed due to the lack of political back-up that could have sustained them,” Tarigami said in a statement.
PDP’s ally BJP had earlier rejected Mehbooba Mufti’s call for “unilateral ceasefire” and termed it as a move not in “national interest”.
The BJP had said that the “unilateral ceasefire” would only serve to ease pressure on militants and allow them to re-energise.
“We have a strong view… Unilateral ceasefire in the present situation is not in national interest at all,” a spokesperson of BJP, who was present at the all-party meeting, had asserted.

The previous ‘ceasefire’
In July 2000, a group of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commanders had declared a unilateral ceasefire, which was later withdrawn. The Government of India seemed to believe it had an opening for talks with Pakistan and the Ramazan ceasefire call was seen as a step toward that.
The ceasefire began on November 28 and was extended three times — from December 28, 2010, to January 26, 2011, from January 27 to February 26, and from February 27 to March 20, 2011, this last extension continuing until May 30. Hostilities continued, however, with more than 800 persons killed, according to figures compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal. The Hizb, Laskhar, Jaish and other groups dismissed the ceasefire as “drama” and “a trap” laid by the Indian government.
On December 7, 2000, Gen Pervez Musharraf indicated that Pakistan had offered “tripartite talks” among Pakistan, India and the Kashmiri leadership.