Mehbooba govt calls for resumption of Indo-Pak peace process

JAMMU, Feb 5: The Jammu and Kashmir Government today batted strongly for the resumption of a ‘peace and reconciliation process’ between India and Pakistan as the issue of repeated ceasefire violations by the neighbouring country rocked the state Assembly.
Opposition National Conference (NC) supported the Mehbooba Mufti government’s stance while calling for a strict implementation of the 2003 ceasefire agreed between the two countries.
Ravinder Raina, a legislator of the BJP, which shares power with the PDP in the state, had earlier pressed for a resolution to condemn the continuous Pakistani shelling.
The issue of unabated ceasefire violations also led to a 10-minute adjournment during the Zero Hour.
When the House met again, the state’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri made a statement supporting a dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad to restore everlasting peace in the region.
“This issue was raised in this house before as well. Our stand is that peace and reconciliation is the only way, dialogue is the only way,” Veeri said.
He said the process initiated by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vaypayee should be taken forward for everlasting peace.
Four Army personnel, including a captain, were killed and four others, including two teenagers, injured in Pakistani shelling along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts yesterday.
Ruling PDP MLA Javaid Beig said that instead of provoking Pakistan, the House should appeal to both the countries to start a dialogue to resolve outstanding issues. Beig’s comments were protested by BJP members.
“We support the statement of Veeri and the young Beig who is right in his approach. On our side, we should not do anything that will lead to further deterioration of the situation,” NC legislature party leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said. He rued that it had become a habit for politicians to worsen the atmosphere through their statements.
“In my opinion, if a resolution is passed in this house, it should be that the people of Jammu and Kashmir demand both the governments to initiate the dialogue process so that peace is restored along the borders,” he said.
Abdullah demanded strict implementation of the 2003 ceasefire agreed upon by India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB).
The NC leader said that the Vajpayee government in consultation with Pakistan gave a ceasefire agreement which needs to be restored.
However, BJP MLA Raina, who demanded a resolution to condemn Pakistan for ceasefire violations, later told reporters that the neighbouring country had targeted an Army post after the Army thwarted its attempt to push terrorists in the state.
“We want the terrorist training camps in Pakistan be bombarded by Indian Air Force. Pakistan is a terror country and it cannot understand the language of diplomacy and democracy,” he said.
NC’s Devender Rana, while speaking to reporters, saluted the sacrifices of the Army jawans and accused BJP of playing politics over the “dead bodies of the jawans”.
We raised the issue of continuous firing and shelling along LoC and IB wherein our soldiers are getting martyred every day and the civilian population is facing the brunt of the escalation of tension, Rana said.
“Who is answerable to the families of soldiers who are on a daily basis getting martyred in the defence of the nation. The civilian population is under constant fear. It is our duty to create an atmosphere so that peace returns to the LoC and IB,” he said.
“Our stand is that dialogue and reconciliation is the only way to restore peace,” Veeri informed the House.
He said that the process of reconciliation, initiated by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vaypayee in 2003,0 needs be taken forward for everlasting peace in the State.
Referring to the latest incidents of cross-border firing in twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri, the Minister said that the respective district administrations are taking all possible measures to avoid loss of life and property. He said that alternate arrangements for boarding and lodging have also been put in place for affected population.
Giving details of latest incidents of cross-border firing, the Minister said that 4 Army personnel including an officer were killed while two civilians and three Jawans including a BSF personal were injured in fresh ceasefire violation along LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts on Sunday.
The Minister said that in Rajouri at about 2130 hours on Sunday, Pakistan Army started indiscriminate firing in Balakote Sector resulting in killing of 4 Army personnel namely, Captain Kapil Kundu of Ransika, Gurgaon, Rifleman Ram Avtar of Baraka, Gawalior, Rifleman Subham Singh of Mukandpur, Kathua and Hawaldar Roshan Lal of Samba died on spot, while one Army Jawan namely Lans-Naik Iqbal Ahmed sustained injuries.
He said that in another ceasefire violation in Bandi Chacian Sector, one Army Jawan namely Sepoy Kishore Kumar and two civilians including a minor namely Yaseen Arif and a girl namely Gulnaz Akhter sustained injuries.
Veeri further informed that ceasefire violation was also reported from Sunderbani where one BSF Jawan namely ASI Ajab Singh sustained injuries. He was immediately shifted to Army Hospital, Satwari for treatment. He said firing was also reported from Bhawani and Lam sector but no loss of life was reported.
He said firing from both the sides stopped on the same day at about 1945 hours.
Earlier several members from opposition and treasury benches expressed concern over the loss of lives on border and urged the state and central government to take concrete measures to ensure peace in the state besides ensuring safety of civilians living near the border.