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Ending ceasefire, coalition break-up linked to 2019 poll: CCG report

Concerned Citizens’ Group (CCG), a civil society group led by former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha which recently visited J&K, in its report released on Friday said that the local perception in the Valley was that centre’s decision to not extend the Ramadhan ceasefire followed by withdrawal of BJP’s support to its former ally PDP was “part of a grand strategy of the BJP with an eye on the 2019 general election”.

The report expressed concern over the recent developments in the Valley including the assassination of journalist Shujaat Bukhari. “The BJP perhaps felt that by going along with the PDP, an impression was gaining ground that the party favoured secessionists and her policies were more focused on the Kashmir Valley to the detriment of Jammu and Ladakh,” the CCG report states.

The group visited J&K to assess the change in the ground situation after the fall of coalition government. The group also travelled to Shujaat Bukhari’s village Kreeri in Baramulla district to express condolences to his family members.

The CCG report states that the split in BJP-PDP alliance has brought a sense of relief among common people. “Most believed that the alliance was doomed from the beginning as the two parties had diametrically opposite ideological and political perspectives,” the report states, adding that the security situation in the Valley was the same as it was three years ago. “There was violence from both sides, there was no dialogue and the Agenda of Alliance agreed upon by the PDP and BJP had become meaningless. There was also no change in the intensity and extent of the anti-insurgency operations of the security forces.”

The report adds that the threat of militancy in the Valley and Pakistan’s hand in promoting it would be used in the BJP’s campaign for the 2019 general election. “The Union government led by the BJP would now take a more belligerent position on the validity of Article 35 A of the Indian Constitution which was currently being adjudicated by the Supreme Court and scheduled for a hearing in August,” the report states.

The report states that most of the common people felt that the ceasefire had helped bring down civilian killings and incidents of stone-pelting by protestors had came down drastically. “And as a result youngsters did not get in retaliatory action by the security forces. The security forces did not move out unless they had specific information about the presence of militants. This created a positive feeling among the common people. Most people in the state expected the cease-fire to be extended at least till the end of the Amarnath Yatra in end-August. No one seemed to know what prompted the government to suddenly revoke the cease-fire,” the report states.

The report says that the people in Kashmir did not seem to have high expectations from the new dispensation under Governor’s rule. “A major challenge for the new dispensation in Srinagar would be to ensure the safety of the Amarnath Yatra or pilgrimage, which began on June 28 and will last till August 26, Rakshabandhan. Security experts claimed that the threat perception for the Amarnath Yatra was more this year than the previous years. There was some local hope and belief that local militants would not attack the pilgrims and that real threat was from across the LoC,” the report adds.

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