Ceasefire and beyond
It’s is official now. The centre has asked security forces not to launch anti militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramazan. The union government has announced the move saying that the decision has been taken to help the peace-loving Muslims to observe Ramazan in a peaceful environment.
The move has come at a time when the state’s chief minister was finding it hard to silence her detractors who were targeting her as the centre had not responded positively to her ceasefire demand that was unanimously put forward by various representatives of political parties during an all party meeting held here few days back.
Though the announcement has not called for total suspension of operations but has given forces the right to retaliate if they are attacked or if essential-to protect the lives of innocent people.
The announcement of a unilateral ceasefire was the need of the hour. The situation in Kashmir Valley especially in southern Kashmir has been on the boil since the last two years now. The volatile situation has not only meant the loss of nearly 100 lives during various encounters and anti government demonstrations but has caused collateral damages as well besides dozens of private properties too were damaged during the fire fights.
The situation in south Kashmir has turned so ugly that even the parliamentary elections were postponed and since then they too have not been held. Besides, the mainstream politics has been turned irrelevant in the entire south Kashmir belt as no mainstream politician has bothered or dared to venture among the masses they represent.
The Non Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO) is not a new phenomenon in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced a unilateral ceasefire in November 200 but six months later the ceasefire did not hold ground as no ground work was done to move beyond the ceasefire announcement.
The situation in Kashmir Valley has once again brought the focus of all right thinking people towards this vexed issue. The valley has seen lot of violence over the past two years. The ceasefire announcement announced by the centre needs to be capitalized on and it is a collective responsibility of all the stake holders to ensure that the move treads beyond a customary announcement.
The Centre which was initially not too keen on offering an olive branch to the militant groups pointing out that the situation in the state was not conducive for such a move, has taken a step forward.
Though there is no guarantee from the militant groups that they too will oblige, but the onus of turning the centre’s move into a window of opportunity lies with the separatist leadership also.
The leadership has to take into account the large scale killings and violence that has shattered hundreds of households over the past two years. The situation on the economic front too is worrisome as the fallout of violence has affected the trade and other sectors bringing activity to a standstill.
The move to tramp beyond a mere announcement has to be ensured by all. The valley has already lost many of its men and women-young, old even small children. The people too need to think positively and help to create an atmosphere where dialogue paves way to the resolution of the conflict that has been affecting us from the past many decades now.