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Strengthen the constituency of peace

The ceasefire declared by central government for the month of Ramazan is in the danger of being withdrawn. All eyes are on home minister Rajnath Singh’s June 7 visit to Srinagar during which he is likely to take stock of the situation in the wake continued violence despite unilateral ceasefire by the security forces. In the past three weeks of so-called ceasefire, there had been no let up in violence. As many as 36 people—16 militants, 10 civilians and 10 armed forces personnel—have died and more than 40 people have got injured in different incidents of violence across the valley. During this period around 15 incidents of grenade throwing also took place. Earlier, it was thought that the home minister might announce the extension of ceasefire post Ramazan on his Srinagar visit. However, BJP’s national general secretary and Kashmir point man Ram Madhav, on Tuesday, dropped hints that the case could be otherwise. He gave confusing signals saying security operations could resume if militancy persisted. Militancy is not going to end by resuming operations. It is there for the past 30 years despite deadly operations of catch and kill by security forces. Chief Minister Mahbooba Mufti, who is a staunch advocate of ceasefire, should prevail on home minister not to go back on the ceasefire. Violence, over the years, has become a part of life. In November 2000, when then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced ceasefire on the occasion of Ramazan, 55 people died in the first 15 days of ceasefire. But that did not deter Vajpayee on his commitment to ceasefire. Some sections of media, more particularly TV news channels, are also trying to play spoil sport. They have launched a bitter campaign against ceasefire. One hopes that unlike other matters, central government would not listen to these studio-oriented war veterans and analysts. Since Amarnath Yatra is likely to begin later this month, managing it smoothly in the thick of a violent atmosphere is not easy. Amarnath Yatra over the years has turned into a national political affair; any inconvenience in conducting it would have dangerous national ramifications. Rajnath Singh should not look towards sideways while assessing the situation in Kashmir. The irritants against ceasefire should never be discounted off when such an initiative is taken in extreme hostile situation. On the very day when home minister Rajnath Singh ordered security forces operating in Kashmir to stop anti militancy operations for the month of Ramazan, a clash broke out between militants and army in a Shopian village. The previous night there had been a clash between militants and security forces in north Kashmir’s Hajin area. This should not rattle the government in its assessment of the situation.

There should rather be efforts how to make peace a permanent thing. To make peace a permanent thing in Kashmir, New Delhi needs to move beyond provisional requirements. Kashmir is not a problem between militants and security forces that holding back guns by them would bring peace. Kashmir as a problem is in the DNA of the people, irrespective of their political affiliations. It needs a bold political initiative supported by measures like ceasefire at all levels—with Pakistan and within Kashmir. Home Minister should make use of his Kashmir visit in strengthening the constituency of peace by making direct offer of dialogue with the separatist leaders and Pakistan. Separatist have shown the inclination towards dialogue. Home minister should address their ‘concern of ambiguity’ which they have expressed over the offer already made. That gives one the moment to understand the mood of the people. It sufficiently indicates that the people in Kashmir vie for a serious political approach in dealing with Kashmir. And any such effort could bring no results unless Pakistan is involved. A serious and sincere dialogue process with Pakistan and with leadership of Kashmir is the only way that could lead to peace.