Srinagar, May 10: Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) on Thursday opposed the unilateral ceasefire that its coalition partner said was unanimously proposed by the participants at the all party meeting.
The meeting, convened here on Wednesday by the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, agreed to send a delegation to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for considering a unilateral ceasefire for the holy month of Ramzan and during Amarnath Yatra.
A day later, however, BJP’s State Spokesperson, Sunil Sethi, called a press conference at the party Jammu headquarters to express their opposition to the suggestion.
“There was no discussion over the Ramadan ceasefire nor did BJP agreed to it. However, a meeting of delegation with Prime Minister was agreed upon by both the parties,” he told the media.
“The issue of unilateral ceasefire was not even put to vote in the House. It was just a suggestion by Er Rasheed, supported by one or two members.”
The BJP spokesperson said they were against “any unilateral ceasefire” given the situation the valley has been in.
“We do not want Ramadan ceasefire at this stage,” he said. “We are living in a situation that is different from what it was 10 years back. Unilateral ceasefire was observed during Vajpayee tenure. But if observed now, it will not be in the nation’s interest.”
Sethi said the ceasefire would give militants a chance to “escape and regroup” for carrying out their activities.
“We are at a final stage to eliminate militancy. Stepping back at this time will not be wise. Those who joined militancy are killed in just three days,” he said.
“So, the fight against militancy shall be continued, and it will ultimately help in bringing peace to the valley, as was seen in Punjab earlier.”
“We are looking for the army to eliminate the militants in a shortest possible time. Unilateral ceasefire at the current situation would mean tying the army’s hands and giving the militants a chance to run away, regroup to create a situation that will be difficult to handle.”
Questioning the Chief Minister’s support to the supposed ceasefire, he said:“In the meeting, the CM herself said that they didn’t get a matching response from other side for talks, be it Pakistan or separatist. So, how can she think that a unilateral ceasefire will work?”
Sethi suggested holding a separate meeting for discussing the issue.
“As a representative of people, we can’t go against the interests of the people. Let us have a meeting to decide on it,” he said.
Questioned about the Deputy Chief Minister’s presence while Mehbooba had made the announcement, he said the meeting was a session with some suggestions.
The BJP spokesperson said the government also needed to review its earlier decision of granting amnesty to the stone throwers.
“It has not given the desired results yet, as some continue to throw stones at the forces. Today’s stone throwers are tomorrow’s potential militants. If the amnesty to them continued, it can prove worrisome for the state and requires an immediate review,” he said.
Sethi said that stone pelting was a “strategy” to help the militants escape.
“Stone throwing at the encounter sites is being done to provoke the forces. As per our reports, stone throwers shift to the place of encounters in groups from various places to halt anti-militant operations,” he said.
Calling for constituting a special force to deal with stone throwing in the valley, the BJP spokesperson said that the state’s police was not “equipped and trained” to deal with it.
“JK Police is not that trained or equipped to deal with mobs and stone throwers. The World has become modern and new ways like drone sprinkling, sting guns are there to deal with such situations. We need a new mobile force especially for stone pelting and mob rioting,” he said.
On the army Chief Bipin Rawat’s recent, Sethi said there was a need to strengthen the forces to deal with the militancy in the valley.
“Presently it is a difficult situation for the army fighting militants as well as the stone throwers. We are trying to convey that it is a time to strengthen the hands of the army and other security forces involved in anti-militancy operations so that its all-out mission is completed sooner,” he said.
On safety of tourist and Amarnath pilgrims visiting the valley, he said security for them needs to be enhanced compared to previous years.
“Our concern is safety of tourists and pilgrims. Those who visit heaven (Kashmir) shouldn’t feel like hell there. So far Amarnath Yatra, security needs to be heightened and no room should be left for any kind of mischief,” Sethi said.