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By: Mohammad Ashraf
(Linking cessation of military operations against militants with the holy month of Ramadan amounts to communalizing the move which should normally have no connection with religion)
The Central Government recently announced the cessation of cordon and search operations by the Army during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to give peace a chance. The announcement was made on the request of the State Chief Ministerwho had asked for a “Ramadan Ceasefire”! Linking the ceasefire with the Muslim Fasting month of Ramadan gives it a communal colour. Does it mean that all operations are directed against the Muslims of Kashmir? Or is the fight between the Hindu Army and Kashmiri Muslims? Secondly, the word ceasefire normally applies to two fighting armies. It seems odd to declare a ceasefire between the third largest Army in the world fighting just a couple of hundred militants! In fact, it is the State Government which has called it the “Ramadan Ceasefire”. The announcement from the centre as given in Times of India says.“Centre directs forces to halt security operations in J&K during Ramzan”. The cessation of violence from both the sides should have nothing to do with the religion. Kashmir is not basically a religious issue but a political problem pertaining to the final disposal of the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir lingering from the partition days. It is unfortunate that after the installation of a Hindutva Government in Delhi, the problem has been communalised with ulterior motives. Ceasefire should be treated as ceasefire regardless of the month or timing when it is declared. It is an end to all types of violence which normally should be followed by talks and dialogue with all stakeholders for ultimate settlement of the basic political problem which continues to stay on the agenda of the international organisations including the United Nations, Security Council.
The Kashmir’s Political struggle is not a fight between Muslims and Non-Muslims. It is, in fact, a struggle for basic Political rights for all Kashmiris irrespective of religion. Kashmiris have been struggling for the basic right of self-determination. Unfortunately, the struggle has been deliberately communalised by Kashmir’s two neighbours for their own motives. It is neither a Jehad nor a Dharam Yudh! The most urgent need is for all to realise the existence of this basic Political issue and strive for its peaceful resolution. The need of the hour is to declare total cessation of all violent activities from all sides without any specific time limit. This will create a peaceful atmosphere for an all-inclusive dialogue between all the stakeholders within Kashmir and within the sub-continent to resolve the problem.
Recently, even the top Army Generals from the two sides are asking for a peaceful dialogue. They seem to have realised the futility of violence in settling political disputes. They also must know that in the present context no conflict can remain localised or conventional. Once war hysteria starts, it has no end and could spiral into a nuclear conflagration destroying not only the entire sub-continent but the entire South Asia with some after effects going all over the globe. The Generals have given their opinion about the basic political problem, being fully aware of the ground situation. It is now the turn of the Politicians on two sides to come forward and start talking at the earliest. Unfortunately, politicians on both the sides have been using Kashmiris as guinea pigs to test their political ideology. The recent book written by the Spymasters of the two countries jointly has made many revelations about Kashmiris being used for various purposes by the two sides.Additionally, Kashmir has been a very easy whip to raise emotions at the time of elections. It is time, everyone realises the futility of using the dispute to further their individual interests. This has harmed both the countries immensely. Let us hope they realise it soon and save us from an Armageddon!
(Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir)