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