Kashmir comes on one page in seeking extension of Ceasefire

Mir Farhat. Updated: 6/13/2018 10:50:32 AM Front Page

Army Chief for ‘giving peace a chance’, GoC Chinar Corps praises locals for ‘responding well’

SRINAGAR: With the cessation of anti-militant operations going on for this month and a crucial security review meeting on Kashmir taking place in New Delhi on Thursday, voices in Kashmir want ‘ceasefire’ to be further extended, even as Army dropped hints at extension of truce in Valley beyond the Eid-Ul-Fitar, with COAS General Bipan Rawat favouring the peace to be given a chance, while GoC of vital Chinar Corps Lt Gen A K Bhatt commended Kashmiris for responding well to one of the most significant steps to have come from Centre.

Legislators and common people on the Valley streets, both want the ‘ceasefire’ should be extended further as they argue that it has given them a breathing space to carry on their daily activities without any security or shutdown hindrance.

A crucial meeting to review security in Jammu and Kashmir is taking place in New Delhi on Thursday where the fate of ongoing ‘ceasefire’ will be decided. Headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the meeting will be attended by top officials of security agencies of the state and officials from the central home ministry.

The meeting will follow after the home minister had a two-day visit to the state last week where he met chief minister, security grid officials, and other agencies to take feedback about the ongoing halt on anti-militant operations. Security agencies and the government had pointed out to the visiting home minister that the ‘ceasefire’ has been 70 percent success.

CPI (M) legislator from Kulgam in south Kashmir, M Y Tarigami said that ‘ceasefire’ should be extended backed by political dialogue and more confidence-building measures.

“Ceasefire has provided some relief to common man,” Tarigami told The News Now.

“Though we would like there should be more confidence-building measures. Like the release of political prisoners before Eid. Stopping indiscriminate arrests of different people and banning on use of pellets,” he said.

Tarigami said that political dialogue and its contours must be explained.

“Hurriyat ko bhi lachak laane chahiye (Hurriyat should show the inclination to talks). Our people need relief; we are sandwiched. So ceasefire is a little relief,” he said.

PDP MLA from Wachi in Shopian district, Aijaz Mir, said that ceasefire should be extended further as the situation remained almost peaceful in entire Kashmir, especially in south Kashmir.

“Stone pelting incidents and protests declined almost to zero; civilian or political workers’ killings did not take place. People heaved a sigh of relief; had a breathing space. Business activity was smooth in Shopian and Pulwama during the ‘ceasefire’ period,” Mir told The News Now.

Mir said that the ongoing ceasefire has opened up space for the legislators to visit their constituencies and meet people.

“Besides development work has picked up in Shopian and elsewhere in south Kashmir which before ceasefire seemed impossible to do,” he added.

Sources in the government indicate that ceasefire is likely to be extended further after the meeting in New Delhi.

Senior police officials in the state said though extending ceasefire is entirely a government decision, but are supportive of extending it further.

Army chief General Bipin Rawat dropped enough hints about the extension of the ceasefire in the state by favoring New Delhi’s dialogue offer in Kashmir, saying “peace should be given a chance in Kashmir.’

“Talks must happen. The issue is that a lot of locals are joining militancy. We kill them and more would join. Infiltration can be controlled, but this cycle of recruitment of local youth can go on and on. So…let’s give peace a chance and see,” Gen Rawat told a New Delhi based newspaper.

On Tuesday, a top Army official asserted that people of Kashmir have responded well to the Centre's announcement of Non-Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO) during month of Ramazan, saying that some peace has been achieved due to NICO in the valley.

General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, Lt General A K Bhatt also connected the terror incidents in past 26 days to the frustration among the terrorists.

“After ceasefire the people are living in a peaceful atmosphere and they (people) have responded well to NICO. So we will be happy if during these 30 days of Ramazan there was no civilian casualty,” Lt Gen Bhatt told reporters after inaugurating Kashmir Super 30 (Medical) project to provide state-of-the-art educational facilities for the medical aspirants of the valley.

He, however, said Pakistan was still trying to push militants from across the Line of Control (LoC) into the valley. “Pakistan is still trying to infiltrate militants into this side of LoC. But our troops are deployed everywhere along the LoC to stop any infiltration bid,” he added.

Replying to a question, Lt Gen Bhatt said the decision to extend ceasefire against militants will be taken by the government. “Whatever the government decides, we will adhere to it,” he added.

Talking about increase in militant attacks and rifle snatching bid, the GOC said they (militants) are doing it out of frustration. But, he said police in several incidents have effectively foiled the rifle stanching bids last months. Answering a question whether there were any apprehensions that militant recruitment increased during the ceasefire, he said there are no indication as such at the movement.

The halt in counterinsurgency operations, announced on May 16 when the month of Ramazan started, despite grenade attacks by militants on security forces in this period, has given the peaceful situation to the people in the entire valley. Normal life picked up pace in this month as business, tourism activity was brisk.

The peaceful situation also did not provide any ground to separatists to call for shutdowns that would cripple life in the Valley.

"We want the ceasefire to be extended. Only we as common people know the cost of adverse situation. This month has given us breathing space," is the common talk in the in the Valley among the people.

Updated On 6/13/2018 11:57:06 AM

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