The United Jehad Council (UJC), a group of militant outfits based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, has said that it is ready for a conditional ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.
Syed Salahuddin, who heads the UJC as well as the Hizbul Mujahideen, has laid down three conditions for the ceasefire — release of prisoners, scaling down of troops to the pre-1989 level and an end to human rights violation. He made the offer in an interview published by Srinagar-based news agency Current News Service on Tuesday.
Salahuddin also demanded tripartite talks involving Pakistan, India and Kashmir but said the UJC’s presence was “not important” in such an event as many people were active on the political front to represent Kashmiris.
Maintaining the Hizb’s stand on the issue of the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley — which they fled 17 years ago — Salahuddin told CNS that the time was “not ripe” for their return. He said that their return at this juncture would only “create complications”.
In response, Panun Kashmir chairman Ajay Charngoo told HT that this makes it clear that they “do not want Kashmiri Pandits back in the Valley under any circumstance”. He also said that the claims of the government, that the situation in the state has improved, falls flat with this latest development. “Terrorists are calling the shots here,” Charngoo said.
The truce offer comes within a fortnight of the India-Pakistan foreign secretary-level talks, the highlight of which was the constitution of a joint anti-terrorism mechanism. The UJC has been under pressure from its cadres to go in for a ceasefire. Militant groups, especially the Hizbul Mujahideen, have been losing their men regularly. There has also been a spate of surrenders.
Another significant reason for the ceasefire offer is that indigenous militant outfits are unhappy with foreign-based groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammad and they do not want to become subservient to them. The ceasefire would help save their cadres and security forces would be able to tackle the foreign elements in a more effective manner.
Salahuddin’s interview does not say anything on the status of Jammu and Kashmir. In all his previous offers, Salahuddin has insisted that Delhi should accept Kashmir as disputed territory.
Officials are maintaining a “wait and watch” approach for militant outfits are know to go back on their words. The ceasefire in July-August 2000 was withdrawn by none other than Salahuddin.