New Delhi, May 16: The Centre on Wednesday agreed to Kashmir Chief Minister Mebhooba Mufti’s proposal for ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramadan.
Announcing conditional ceasefire, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asked the security forces not to launch operation against militants during the holy month.
The Home ministry said that the decision has been taken to help the “peace-loving Muslims observe Ramadan in a peaceful environment”.
The ministry issued a statement saying, “It is important to isolate the forces that bring a bad name to Islam by resorting to mindless violence and terror…Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, too, has been informed of the decision by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.”
However, the Centre clarified that the security forces “reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people”.
Earlier this month, after an all-party meeting, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had appealed the central government to consider a unilateral ceasefire in the state starting from Ramadan in mid-May till the completion of the Amarnath yatra in August.
She had said that a ceasefire would provide relief to the people and help create a better atmosphere in the state. At that time, the state BJP seemed to be opposing such a decision.
The party’s state unit had said militants were demoralised due to Army action and a unilateral ceasefire would ease pressure and allow them to re-energise.
Reacting to government’s decision on Wednesday, Mufti tweeted, “I wholeheartedly welcome the Ramadan ceasefire and would like to thank @narendramodi ji & @rajnathsingh ji for their personal intervention. My gratitude also to the leaders and parties who participated in the All Party Meeting & helped build consensus towards this announcement. The month of Ramadan is a harbinger of peace & such a decision will go a long way in creating a peaceful & amicable environment for a sustained dialogue.”
On May 9, Mufti had said the Centre should consider a unilateral ceasefire in the state starting from Ramadan in mid May till the completion of the Amarnath Yatra in August.
She made the remarks after chairing an all-party meeting, which was convened to discuss the present situation in Kashmir Valley, especially after a tourist from Chennai was killed in stone pelting on May 7.
“Everyone (all parties) agreed that we should appeal to the Centre to consider a ceasefire like the unilateral ceasefire in (former PM Atal Bihari) Vajpayee’s time during Ramadan (later this month) till Amarnath Yatra and Eid,” she had told reporters.
The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP, which is sharing power with Mufti’s PDP, opposed her call for a unilateral ceasefire claiming such a step was not at all in “national interest”.
“An opinion came up during the discussion for a unilateral ceasefire on the lines of one declared by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. We have a strong view… Unilateral ceasefire in the present situation is not in national interest at all,” BJP state unit’s chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi earlier said.
The last time the Union government announced an unilateral ceasefire during the month of Ramadan was in 2000, during the Vajpayee government’s tenure.