Ramzan move a ‘farce’, spell out road map: Separatists to Cen­tre

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - FRONT PAGE - Toufiq Rashid, Rahul Singh and Ashiq Hus­sain

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: A day af­ter the In­dian gov­ern­ment or­dered se­cu­rity forces to sus­pend counter-in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions in Jammu and Kash­mir dur­ing the Is­lamic holy month of Ramzan, se­nior sep­a­ratist lead­ers de­clined to wel­come the move and said the Cen­tre needed to do more.

Moder­ate Hur­riyat Con­fer­ence leader Mir­waiz Umar Fa­rooq, who is also the val­ley’s head cleric, said in a phone in­ter­view that a month of “no ac­tion is a farce’’, while chair­man of the Jammu and Kash­mir Lib­er­a­tion Front , Yasin Mal­lik, de­scribed the de­ci­sion to sus­pend op­er­a­tions as a “mazaak” (joke).

Civil­ians were more op­ti­mistic, hop­ing the sus­pen­sion of mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions will last beyond Ramzan, help im­prove the sit­u­a­tion, and lead to talks be­tween the gov­ern­ment and sep­a­ratist lead­ers.

But serv­ing and re­tired army of­fi­cers who have had stints in the trou­bled state felt the onemonth halt would have no im­pact on the army’s long-term op­er­a­tional strat­egy in the Val­ley. Some said only mil­i­tants would ben­e­fit from the po­lit­i­cal move, which came on a re­quest by J&K chief min­is­ter Me­hbooba Mufti.

The halt to mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions comes amid wide­spread un­rest that has rocked the Val­ley, where shut­downs have be­come rou­tine and the gov­ern­ment of­ten closes schools and col­leges. As many as 41 peo­ple — in­clud­ing mil­i­tants, civil­ians and se­cu­rity per­son­nel — were killed in vi­o­lence across Kash­mir in April. This month, 23 peo­ple have died vi­o­lently, in­clud­ing a tourist who died on May 7 in a stone pelt­ing in­ci­dent near Srinagar.

When asked if he would wel­come the step, Mir­waiz said the one-month halt does not re­flect a pol­icy change to­wards Kash­mir. “What is the road map ahead (of the sus­pen­sion)?. Is the gov­ern­ment of In­dia do­ing us a favour by say­ing we won’t kill you for a month but will start killing you again once the holy month of Ramzan is over?’’ Mir­waiz asked. Mir­waiz and Ma­lik agreed that a di­a­logue be­tween the In­dian gov­ern­ment and the Kash­miri lead­er­ship and tri­par­tite talks (also in­volv­ing Pak­istan) could be the only so­lu­tion to the prob­lem.

“Whether it’s the po­lit­i­cal move­ment or the militancy, this is all an off­shoot of the Kash­mir is­sue; you can’t ig­nore the main is­sue and ad­dress the off­shoot,’’ Ma­lik said. Sep­a­ratist leader Syed Ali Gee­lani joined the Mir­waiz and Ma­lik in re­leas­ing a state­ment.

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