NEW DELHI- India extended its cease-fire against militants in Kashmir for three months, but warned it would take firm action against any group that continued with violence.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vapayee told parliament, the ceasefire, due to expire on Monday would now be extended until the end of May.
"Having examined all aspects of the question in its totality the government has decided to further extend the period up till the end of May, said Vajpayee today
Shiv Sena MPs, including three ministers, boycotted the Lok Sabha when prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made the statement.
A bullet for a bullet should be our policy, party leader in the Lok sabha Anant Geete, said adding the extension of the cease-fire would result in increased threat to country's security. Our demand is that the cease-fire be immediately scrapped, he said
National Security advisor and principal secretary to Vajpayee, Brajesh Mishra said the extension of cease-fire should not be construed as a sign of weakness and indecisiveness.
We look far friendship and peace with neighbours, but at no time should it be seen as weakness or indecisiveness, Mishra said during an interactive session with the media and academics of the Jawahar Lai Nehru University after releasing a book Kargil and after, challenges for India here.
Mishra said there was strong evidence that showed that Pakistan could control the level of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. What Pakistan has done is stop shelling across the border, but it has continued to support materially and otherwise the militant acts in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mishra ruled out any third party mediation on the Kashmir issue is spite of growing favourable international opinion on India's stand on Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, a known critic of unilateral cease-fire, has expressed concern over the growing violence in Jammu and Kashmir and dismissed as a foolish idea any possible talks between Vajpayee and Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
According to people, it is a foolish idea. What is to discuss when they have a categorical demand for Kashmir... It is not your personal properly, it is not a birth day cake. My country is not a birthday cake so you can cut your piece and eat, Thackeray told CNN in an interview.
‘Not under pressure'
Defence minister George Fernandes said the decision had not been taken under any pressure. It was taken in view of the challenges before the nation and also in consideration of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, he told reporters. Be said India extended the cease-fire to provide an opportunity to militants to come forward for talks.
(KASHMIR OBSERVER, 25 February, 2001)
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.