Kashmiris welcome halt in military operations but want Centre to talk to Hurriyat
The people hope that the Centre’s decision to halt operations against militants will continue even after Ramzan so that the situation improves and the killings stop.india Updated: May 17, 2018 18:28 IST
The suspension of security operations against militants in Kashmir during Islam’s holiest month of Ramzan has brought some optimism among common people who want the Centre to take the initiative forward and start dialogue with separatist leaders because “people listen to Hurriyat.”
The people hope that the Centre’s decision to halt operations against militants will continue even after Ramzan so that the situation improves and the killings stop.
“This is a welcome step but it should continue beyond Ramzan as well. Militants, civilians and security forces are dying here every day. Bloodshed is no solution. It is good if ceasefire happens,” said Irfan Ahmad, a garment shop owner in city center Lal Chowk.
He said that the central government should further move ahead on the initiative. “The thing is that they have done this against many odds. Many people all over the country outside Kashmir are not happy with the announcement. The best way to make some good out of this is to talk to Hurriyat without any preconditions. At the end of the day people here listen to Hurriyat,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Centre asked security forces in Jammu and Kashmir not to launch operations during the holy month of Ramzan to help Muslims observe the month of fasting in a peaceful environment .The announcement came days after chief minister Mehbooba Mufti chaired an all-party meet and urged the Centre to halt security operations during Ramzan and the ensuing Amarnath Yatra like it had happened at the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee (November 2000).
The Centre’s announcement on Wednesday wasn’t a blank cheque though with army officials saying that the government had made it clear that the security forces had the right to retaliate if attacked and also to protect civilians. They added that the army would carry out fewer cordon and search operations (CASO) and search and destroy operations (CADO) for the one-month period.
But the separatists are not impressed with the Centre’s decision. In a statement on Thursday, separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, dubbed the Centre’s announcement “Operation Halt” saying it was highly illogical and unfortunate to “offer relaxations in killings for one month and then restart it with impunity”.
“The people of Kashmir, as a peace loving nation, believe in permanent peace rather than a relaxation in killing for one month. People want a permanent halt on war thrust by India,” they said in the statement.
Prominent hotelier Faiz Bakshi agreed that the talks with separatists can make it meaningful. “The ceasefire can obviously restore some peace if it is enforced in letter and spirit, and when no bullets are fired on stone pelters. But one thing is important that it should be accompanied by initiating talks with stake holders mainly Hurriyat,” said Bakshi, who formerly was president of Kashmir Hoteliers and Restaurant Owners Federation.
“The tourism is already dead here. But people can expect business to pick up in coming days,” he said.
Terror outfit Lasker e Taiba (LeT) also rejected the centre’s announcement. In a statement to the local press, LeT spokesperson, Abdullah Ghazanwi quoted the group’s chief, Mehmooad Shah as saying that the ‘ceasefire is no option and no thought can be given on such compromise’.
But there are some Kashmiris who believe that the initiative will succeed. “There was a time in 1990s when militants would roam the streets and attack army camps. Those things don’t happen now.
The ceasefire will succeed because the militants nowadays are targeted by army and police in their hideouts,” said Mohammad Younis, a telecom employee.
A resident of south Kashmir’s Shopian not wishing to be named said that people really want a stop to the killings and strikes every month that continue to convulse the Valley. “More than hope, people wish that this should work. This can be something that would give some relief to people. They want that cycle of killing, protests and strike to end. The people want it to be used for a longer political solution of the issue,” he said.
As many as 41 people — including militants, civilians and security personnel — were killed in various instances of violence across Kashmir in April. This month, 23 people have been killed so far. A tourist was killed on May 7 in a stone-pelting incident near Srinagar. Shutdowns have become a routine and government often closes schools and colleges.
First Published: May 17, 2018 18:27 IST