SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Mehbooba Mufti has a word of advice for separatists who are waging a losing battle - accept the central government’s dialogue offer. In an interaction with reporters on Monday, Mufti said offers for talks don’t come too often and that separatists should grab the 'golden opportunity' before it's too late.
"People in Kashmir are feeling a sigh of relief after cessation of operations by security forces. The killings and bloodshed have stopped and it has a positive impact on the ground," Mehbooba told reporters after inaugurating a bridge in Srinagar.
The central government has announced unilateral Ramazan ceasefire in the State from May 16 and directed security forces to stop all active anti militancy operations.
Referring to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's talks offer, Mehbooba said, "It seems that atmosphere is being created for carrying forward political process… How far it can be taken forward depends on how much does the ground situation improve."
While Mufti exhorted the separatists to accept the Home Minister's talks offer, she said nobody can drag them to the negotiating table.
According to the chief minister, J&K is a political issue and there can't be a military solution for it. "Separatists have to think if they want to end bloodshed and destruction in Kashmir. They have to think if they want to bring J&K out of this bloodshed... For solution of Kashmir, everybody has to come forward," she said.
During his recent visit to J&K last week, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said dialogue can be held with everyone and it was not necessary to hold talks with like-minded but they should be 'right minded'.
Mufti recalled how separatist-Centre talks were held during Vajpayee's regime. "The cessation of hostilities for the first time happened during his (Vajpayee's) rule and now after 18 years, the cessation of hostilities in the State has again taken place."
Highlighting that talks were held at the level of deputy PM L K Advani then, she said the process is repeating again. "It does not happen every time," she said.
She expressed the hope that the separatists will come forward in view of the positive impact on the ground by unilateral ceasefire announced by the Centre.
On the possibility of the Centre extending the Ramazan ceasefire, she said, "Prime Minister and Home Minister will review the situation and take an appropriate decision on it."
She hoped that the Centre would take a holistic view considering all aspects while deciding on it in the coming days.
* In 2003, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference agreed for talks with the central government
* In 2004, Mirwaiz-led moderate Hurriyat faction held talks with the then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani in New Delhi
* On September 6, 2005, and May 3, 2006 the moderate Hurriyat Conference leaders held talks with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
* However, the third round of talks did not take off as Hurriyat leaders said promises about implementation of confidence-building measures like lifting controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act and release of political prisoners were not fulfilled