Life has come a full circle for Zaffar Akbar Bhat after 18 years when he along with a band of four Hizbul Mujahideen Commanders strengthened the peace constituency and announced a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.Sitting at his residence, Bhat lost no time to welcome the cessation of operations by the security forces during the holy month of Ramzan in Jammu and Kashmir.“We always welcome the ceasefire and paves way for the resolution of Kashmir dispute. We had announced the ceasefire in 2000 and not a bullet was fired from any side. We also hope ceasefire will be implemented on both sides of Line of Control because people are dying,” he told DNA.Zafar, a former top Hizbul commander, who now heads the separatist political organization Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement (JKSM), was the architect of the July 2000 ceasefire by Hizbul Mujahedeen. A close aide of slain Hizbul Operational Commander Abdul Majeed Dar, Zaffar along with three other commanders held talks with the then union home secretary Kamal Panday in Srinagar for the settlement of Kashmir tangle.The ceasefire, however, was withdrawn after 15 days by Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) based supreme commander Syed Salahuddin after differences cropped up within the militant and separatist leadership. Later Dar and two other militant leaders who were part of the negotiations were assassinated.“Everything is feasible. If you are sincere take serious steps you will get the results. When we declared a ceasefire, the government of India responded positively and there was no fire from any side. Today it has happened and hope there are positive results as well”, said ZaffarJKSM leader said everybody should come forward and respond positively to solve the Kashmir issue. “It is better for everyone to come forward. If the government of India had declared it as a big brother we must respond and welcome this”, he said.Zaffar clarified that ceasefire does not mean surrender. “It means you cease the gun and pave way for peace, the dialogue and settlement of the Kashmir issue through peaceful means”, he said.Zaffar said their truce in 2000 was a big success because for the first time the government of India accepted them as a party. “Earlier they were declared Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist organization. But when we declared a ceasefire, the then union home flew from New Delhi to hold talks with us. It was for the first time that we were treated as party to this dispute despite the facts that guns were with us”, he said.
Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)
Hizbul Mujahideen (HM)
Zaffar Akbar Bhat
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)
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