Center rejects Mehbooba Mufti’s Ramadan, Yatra ceasefire call

Government of India (GoI) today formally rejected Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s call for ceasefire in the State to ease tension during Ramadan and the Amarnath yatra.
Speaking to the media, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Indian Army has to firmly handle any terrorism which threatens the peace and harmony of Jammu Kashmir as a state and of the rest of country. The Army’s position is that it has to be firm on terrorism.”
She said Jammu Kashmir was an integral part of India.
“Terrorism has to be eliminated by the Indian Army for which firm action is required,” she said. “There will be no let up on terror and we will take action every minute.”
Mehbooba’s call for a ceasefire had come in an All Party Meeting convened on May 9 to discuss the worsening security situation in Jammu Kashmir amid civilian deaths in gunfights.
Sitharaman’s statement comes days after Mehbooba claimed the participants had agreed to appeal to GoI to announce a ceasefire within the State from the fasting month of Ramadan, starting later this week, to the end of the Amarnath yatra to ease tension during these periods significant for devotees.
“Everyone was concerned about the present situation (in the Valley), about the killings, the youth picking up guns, stone-pelting which also took the life of a tourist from Tamil Nadu,” Mehbooba had told reporters after the four-hour meeting. “Everyone agreed that we should appeal to GoI to consider a ceasefire like the unilateral ceasefire in (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee’s time.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader had said GoI should think of a ceasefire so that the people could get some relief “because they are facing many difficulties due to gunfights, crackdowns and search operations”.
The rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is also in alliance with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, too, had rejected her proposal.
“What guarantee will there be that the Army will not be attacked?” Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat had asked.
Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Jitendra Singh, without naming Mehbooba, accused her of “playing politics” over Ramadan.