Srinagar: In the backdrop of escalation of separatist violence in Kashmir and simmering anger among its youth, an all-party meet held in Srinagar on Wednesday asked New Delhi to consider a ceasefire in the State during the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and Amarnath yatra.
The meeting had been convened by Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, who told reporters, “It was the unanimous decision of all parties during the meeting that the Government of India should consider ceasefire ahead of Ramazan and Amarnath yatra. People are facing problems because of the security forces’ crackdowns and search operations. If these are put to halt and a unilateral ceasefire announced the people will get some relief,” she said.
She added that it was also decided at the meeting that an all party delegation will meet Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, soon to make a formal request for ceasefire and also to discuss the urgency of political outreach. Incidentally, the Prime Minister is scheduled to pay a visit to all the three regions of the State-Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh- later this month.
The Chief Minister said that it was satisfying to note that all participants were unanimously concerned about the unending cycle of violence in the State and wished its immediate end. “Everyone voiced concern over the killings that are taking place and over our young turning to the gun and the stone-pelting incidents in which we lost also a young boy from Tamil Nadu,” she said.
She added, “The unanimous view was that such steps should be initiated that will act towards building confidence and providing relief to the people during Ramazan, Id and Amarnath yatra.”
The Chief Minister claimed, “Equally encouraging was that the participants wanted implementation of the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ which they believed would positively change the situation in the State.” The ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ is the common minimum programme reached between Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the government formation in 2015. “They asked why it is not being implemented,” she said.
She said that an appeal would be made to the Centre to announce a unilateral cessation of hostilities in view of the coming month of Ramazan and Amarnath yatra for extending relief to common masses. “A suggestion also came up that an all parties delegation should meet the Prime Minister to apprise him of the emerging challenges in Jammu and Kashmir and the urgent need of reaching out to people in the light of his last Independence Day speech in which he had said ‘Na goli se, na gaali se, Kashmir ki samasya suljhe gi gale lagaane se (Kashmir problem will not be solved by bullets or abuses but only with embracing the people)’.”, she said.
Earlier, PDP-BJP government chief spokesman and works minister, Syed Naeem Akhter, said that the general feeling among the participants of the all-party meeting was that there should be a political outreach on Kashmir. “The general feeling is that there should be a political outreach on Kashmir,” he told reporters at the SKICC. He also said that the participants also called for the national leadership of the country to take a leaf out of the then Prime Minister’s Atal Behari Vajpayee’s 2002 initiatives.
The meeting had been called by the Chief Minister to deliberate on worsening situation in Kashmir Valley in the aftermath of civilian and militant deaths in security forces’ operations.
While speaking in the meeting, the Chief Minister termed peace as the ultimate yearning of every section of society in the State. She appealed all shades of opinion in joining this mission to get the State out of violence and bloodshed.
She also asked all shades of political opinion to rise above party politics and play their role in giving youth of the State a safe and secure future. “This is the concern of all of us because in peace lie the stakes of every section of society for which we all should strive jointly”.
The Chief Minister said it was vital to apprise the national leadership and people of the country of the urgent need to reach out to the people of the State and listen to their story of pain and sufferings. “She suggested constitution of an all-party delegation to meet the Prime Minister and apprise the national leadership about the pain and sufferings of the people and take appropriate measures to minimize the same,” an official spokesman said.
Deputy Chief Minister, Kavinder Gupta while speaking in the meeting stressed on close cooperation between the government and opposition in tackling issues confronting the State.
Ahead of the meeting, the Chief Minister deeply concerned at the turn of events in the Valley had discussed the situation threadbare with her partners and other functionaries in the government and senior officers of the police and intelligence agencies. She had separately also closeted with her PDP colleagues to deliberate on the alarming situation emerging in the aftermath of the killing of eight militants and seven civilians in two counterinsurgency operations in Srinagar and southern Shopian and subsequent clashes on May 5 and 6. One of her aides had said that she was also deeply saddened over the death of a tourist from Chennai in a stone-pelting incident.
On Tuesday, the Chief Minister had met Governor, N.N. Vohra, here to discuss “various important matters relating to counter-terrorist operations, continuing incidents of stone pelting, the death of a tourist and other concerns”. The two at their 90-minutes-long meeting also discussed the “growing radicalization and its grave impact in the educational sector”, an official spokesman has said.
Firebrand MLA and leader of Awami Itehad Party (AIP), Engineer Rashid, said that he told the meeting that granting right of self-determination to the people of the State is the only resolution to Kashmir dispute. He also said, “I also suggested that all mainstream parties should jointly ask New Delhi that they will not contest any elections, till it shows sincerity and offers an acceptable dialogue with all the stakeholders in the State.”
Separatist leader and Kashmir’s chief Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said it was a meeting of all pro India parties convened by the Chief Minister and “is nothing more than a farce to mislead people into believing that they are serious or can do something to bring people out of the current oppressive State”.
In a statement issued in Srinagar, the Mirwaiz also said, “The fact remains that it is these very parties and people who are responsible for our miseries and massacres that do take place in the state day in, day out and the extreme repressive situation that we are facing for the past seventy years in general and three decades in particular.”