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UJC offers conditional ceasefire

An apparent evidence of pressure working on the conglomerate to shun violence as a tool of what it calls its struggle, writes Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2006 14:08 IST
Arun Joshi

The Pakistan occupied Kashmir based apex body of Kashmiri terrorists, United Jehad Council, has come out with a fresh offer of conditional ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir in an apparent evidence of pressure working on the conglomerate to shun violence as a tool of what it calls its struggle.

Syed Salaha-ud-Din, supreme commander of indigenous Kashmiri outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen, who also heads conglomerate of terrorist outfits United Jehad Council, has listed three conditions for the ceasefire: release of all prisoners, halt to human rights violations and scaling down of troops in Kashmir to pre- 1989 level.

He has said that the UJC is willing for truce if these three conditions are met.

This fresh ceasefire talk has surfaced in an interview of Syed Salaha-ud-Din given to a Srinagar based news agency Current News Service (CNS) on Monday.

This truce offer has come within a fortnight of the Indo-Pak foreign Secretary level talks, the highlight of which was constitution of the joint anti-terrorism mechanism. The UJC was under pressure from its own cadres to go in for a ceasefire, for Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen in particular has been losing its men at a rapid pace.

It has lost one of its top commanders Sohail Faisal in Bijbehra in South Kashmir on Tuesday.

Moreover, there has been a spate of surrenders of the militants, who cross over from PoK. As many as 20 of them had surrendered before the army in Uri last weekend. In Baramullah alone, the number of such militants who laid down their arms has gone up to 110.

Another significant reason is that the indigenous terrorist outfits are unhappy with the foreign-based groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad and they do not want to become subservient to them. The ceasefire would help to save them their cadres and the security forces would be able to tackle the foreign elements in more effective manner.

The UJC chairman's interview was circulated by the CNS and printed in local newspapers has nowhere mentioned anything about the status of Jammu and Kashmir. In all his previous offers of this kind, Salaha-ud-Din had insisted that Delhi should accept Kashmir as a disputed territory.

The 1989 troops level is the most significant part. It is not equivalent to de-militarization. It accepts that India has the right to keep its troops in Kashmir Valley.

This talk has also coincided with the timing of the ceasefire in Gaza by Palestinian groups, making it clear that the international scene too is impacting the mindset of the terrorists active in Kashmir.

But the officials are maintaining a " wait and watch" approach for the terrorist outfits. None else but Salaha-ud-Din withdrew the ceasefire in July-August 2000.

But they also admit that times have changed and the terrorist leaders in PoK have no option but to move with times, call for truce is in their own interest.