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July 24, 2000
Hizb commander announces conditional ceasefire in J&K
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
A prominent Kashmiri militant leader has announced a three-month conditional ceasefire by the frontline Hizbul Mujahideen beginning Tuesday.
Abdul Majid Dar, who claimed to be 'commander-in-chief (operations)' of the Hizbul Mujahideen, said the outfit had decided to "halt attacks against the security forces" from Tuesday.
"We have announced the ceasefire to facilitate a solution to the [Kashmir] problem and we shall abide by it only if operations against the militants are stopped immediately by the security forces," Dar told a group of reporters in at a Hizb hideout in Srinagar.
He further said the "excesses" of the security forces on unarmed civilians and against all political activists, irrespective of ideology, must be "stopped forthwith".
If the "Indian government abides by our conditions and reciprocates our offer in the right spirit", Dar said, "we shall consider its extension."
He announced that Hizb militants were even willing to "associate with the talks to find a permanent solution to the problem".
India, Dar said, had "unleashed propaganda throughout the world against the Kashmiri militants and to dispel that the outfit has announced the ceasefire".
Dar, however, warned that any political leader could be targeted "if he acts in a manner that is detrimental to our freedom struggle".
He strongly opposed the proposal for trifurcation of the state.
Asked if other militant outfits would similarly cease fire, Dar said, "I appeal to them too to co-operate with us."
Replying to another question on the presence of foreign militants in the Kashmir valley, he said, "They are our brothers and have come here to help us and we salute their spirit and valour."
He added, "Once the Kashmir problem is amicably resolved, these foreign militants will withdraw from here."
Dar said his outfit would support any political party for holding talks, but these have to be "unconditional".
Dar said the Government of Pakistan also wants a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute.
He claimed that the ceasefire decision was taken recently at a meeting in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which he attended. "The 'chief commander', Syed Salahuddin, too was present," he said.
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