Did Mehbooba Mufti Jump The Gun? Parties Say Ceasefire Demand Never Discussed

PDP ally BJP claimed that only one person had asked for ceasefire, and that was independent lawmaker Engineer Rashid.


Mehbooba Mufti had said there was consensus among parties that there should be ceasefire during Ramzan

Srinagar:  Two days after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed to the centre to consider a ceasefire with terrorists during Ramzan, saying it was the view shared by all political parties in the state, a different side to the story has emerged. Political parties who participated in Wednesday's meeting allege that Ms Mufti lied because there was no discussion on ceasefire during the meeting. Parties claim even Mehbooba Mufti's Peoples Democratic Party or PDP did not raise this issue in the meeting. 

PDP ally BJP claimed that only one person had asked for ceasefire, and that was independent lawmaker Engineer Rashid. The BJP alleged that the demand he made was to save terrorists cornered by security forces. 

"We thought that Engineer Rashid was raising this demand to save cornered militants," said BJP spokesman Sunil Sethi.

Soon after the all-party meeting, Ms Mufti had said that there was consensus among political parties that there should be ceasefire during month of Ramzan and upcoming Amarnath Yatra.

"All of us agree that we all have to appeal government of India to consider a ceasefire during month of Ramzan, Amarnath Yatra and Eid, the way Vajpayee ji announced unilateral ceasefire in 2000," Mehbooba Mufti had said on Wednesday.

The PDP defended Ms Mufti's demand by saying that BJP leader and deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta was present when the chief minister made the announcement. 

"Everyone in the meeting had an opinion that we must go with the ceasefire during month of Ramzan and Amarnath Yatra. When the chief minister was facing the press, deputy chief minister of BJP was standing there. But in any case even if they differ we have to see the larger interest of people," said Rafi Ahmad Mir, chief spokesperson, PDP. 

Wednesday's meeting was attended by the PDP, BJP, Congress, National Conference, CPIM and other regional parties. The parties say while all of them want an end to violence and bloodshed in the Valley, they were surprised after the chief minister attributed the ceasefire demand to the all-party meeting. 

"During the meeting no party said there should be ceasefire during Ramzan. I think probably one man, perhaps Rashid Engineer. But there was consensus that bloodshed should be stopped and political prisoners should be released," said Ali Mohammad Sagar, General Secretary National Conference.

Senior Congress leader and lawmaker Usman Majid, who had attended the all-party meeting, said Ms Mufti's announcement was news to him.

"It was not discussed at all. Their (PDP) member also spoke but he didn't raise this issue. It was the chief minister who said it outside to the press," he said.

In November 2000, then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had announced unilateral ceasefire with terrorists in Kashmir. 

Engineer Rashid says he is demanding for a similar initiative from the government, but no one in the all-party meeting responded.

"It was never discussed. I raised it with full force to have a ceasefire. I said other modalities can be discussed later on. None of them responded. They are lying to people, trying to gain false sympathies," said Mr Rashid.

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