SRI NAGAR: The Hizbul Mujahideen is seeking feedback from its commanders before taking a final call on whether to accept the conditional ceasefire announced by the Centre during Ramzan.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs accepted Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s ceasefire proposal and asked security forces not to launch operations against terrorists during the holy month. But it clarified that security forces reserved the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people.
Top sources said Muzaffarabad-based Hizb chief Syed Salahauddin had been taking the opinion of his commanders, especially in the Valley, after the proposal was made by Mehbooba after an all-party meeting in Srinagar last week. They said the Hizb top command was in favour of the ceasefire and was likely to also take on board the separatist leadership before announcing any decision.
“The Hizb leadership may wait for some days before announcing whether to accept or reject the ceasefire,” a source said.
Security experts said militants in the Valley were likely to be in favour of the ceasefire as it would give them a breather from the unrelenting onslaught of security forces’ operations.
Militant outfits, especially the Hizb and the Lashkar-e-Toiba, have been at the receiving end of “Operation All Out” launched by security forces last year. Many top militant commanders have been killed in the Valley since then.
Zafar Akbar Bhat, a former top Hizb commander and now head of the separatist political party, Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement, said the ceasefire opportunity should not be missed.
“We have already missed two opportunities in 2000. Proper ground work should be done for a successful and lasting ceasefire,” said Zafar, who played a key role in the unilateral ceasefire announced by the Hizb in July 2000.
The call for the July 2000 ceasefire was accepted by the Central government but lasted only 18 days as the Hizb had laid down conditions for its continuation.
Zafar, who was then Hizb commander for central Kashmir, said everyone, including Hurriyat leaders, had been taken on board before the announcement of the ceasefire for which groundwork started after the Kargil war.
“However, the ceasefire was sabotaged by anti-peace elements,” he said.Asserting that the current ceasefire would be a win-win situation for both parties, Zafar said, “It should not be seen as defeat by any party. It is victory for peace and a big constituency in Kashmir wants peace.”
Asked what he would suggest to the Hizb leadership, he said, “They are wise enough. They must think it over.”He added, “For talks, there should be a conducive atmosphere. That will come only when you lay down the gun.”
July 24, 2000
Hizb proposes ceasefire
Central government suspends anti-militancy operations
Hizb and Union Home Ministry representatives hold talks
Ceasefire called off after Hizb attaches conditions
November 27, 2000
Central govt announces unilateral ceasefire
Dec 28-Jan 2001
Jan 27-Feb 27 2001
Feb 27-May 31
May 31, 2001
Ceasefire called off
Political parties welcome move, separatists quiet
Srinagar: Security officials and political parties welcomed the Centre’s decision to halt security operations in the strife-torn state for the month of Ramzan. “It (ceasefire) is a good development,” Director General of Police SP Vaid said. Another top security official said the ceasefire has come into effect after the ceasefire announcement by the Home Minister. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, NC leader Omar Abdullah and also those from Congress, CPI(M) and other mainstream parties welcomed the Centre’s ceasefire announcement. The separatists, however, are tight-lipped. LeT chief Mehmood Shah has said no thought can be given on ceasefire, adding the announcement was nothing but a drama.