Expresses concern over distressing situation people are caught in; Calls for immediate cessation of hostilities, reviving 2003 ceasefire CBM

SRINAGAR, MAY 23: Expressing grave concern over the painful and distressing situation prevailing along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of latest spate of killings in cross-border shelling, Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti today called for immediate cessation of hostilities to safeguard the lives and properties of the hapless people caught in the deadly crossfire.

“It is the life and property and sense of security of the people of J&K which are in the line of fire and every bullet or a mortar shell fired hits only the residents of this state on either side,” the Chief Minister said in a statement while expressing anguish over the killing of more civilians during previous night in fresh shelling along the International Border in Jammu.

The Chief Minister said it was painful to see everyday loss of precious human lives, destruction of properties and large-scale migration in border areas of the State due to the hostile situation prevailing along the borders. “The terrible images of an eight-month old child with bullet wounds on his body is perhaps not enough to shake the conscience of the humanity in the region and put an end to this senseless bloodletting,” she said and added that both the countries shall have to put an end to this hostility to safeguard the lives of the people.

Stressing the need for building a strong peace initiative from within the state, she said more than a decade and a half back the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee in an impressive display of statesmanship had opened a new chapter in the blood-soaked history of India and Pakistan by responding to the urge for peace and dignified resolution during his historic visit to Srinagar in 2003. “The people of the state especially those living in border areas had experienced an entirely new-found peace and environment of security after the 2003 ceasefire with Pakistan,” she said and added that marking a clear departure from the history of hatred and hostility in the region, the peace process initiated in 2003, had yielded momentous dividends in the shape of the ceasefire along the borders from Kargil to Kathua, opening up of cross-LoC routes for passenger traffic and visits by the representatives of the civil society, media professionals, businessmen and ordinary citizens to and from the two sides of the State. “What is more important is that hope had replaced despair during that period,” she said and added that the lack of follow-up, unfortunately, pushed not only the confidence building measures under the carpet but also put the peace process on the back-burner. “And the result is there for everybody to see,” she said and cautioned against the dangers of slowing down the process of reconciliation and resolution.

Conveying her heartfelt sympathies and solidarity to the families of victims of firing on borders, Mehbooba said there is no reason why the political leadership of our country and the that of Pakistan not employ similar peace offensive as the one initiated by Vajpayee so that the hawks on both side are silenced and the people of J&K get a reprieve from constant war and threat of it.

The Chief Minister said while people in mainland have heaved a sigh of relief due to the magnanimous unilateral ceasefire announced by the Central Government, time has come to extend this CBM along the borders as well for which onus lies with Pakistan also to respond positively in the larger interest of peace and stability in the region.