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The United Jihad Council (UJC), an alliance of over a dozen pro-independence Kashmiri militant groups, on Tuesday played down the recent imposition of governor’s rule in India-held Kashmir as a “non-issue,” noting that New Delhi had always run the occupied territory "through its stooges and puppet governments".

“For the sake of durable peace in the region, it is imperative that India read the writing on the wall, respect the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiris and hold a free and fair plebiscite in accordance with the pledges made by its leadership after partition of the sub-continent,” the UJC chief, Syed Salahuddin, was quoted as saying in a press release.

According to the press release, issued by the group, the UJC conglomerate had on Tuesday held a high-level meeting with Salahuddin in the chair to discuss recent events in held Kashmir.

During the meeting, the UJC chief warned against a major humanitarian disaster in the face of unrelenting atrocities and human rights violations at the hands of Indian forces in held Kashmir.

Expressing serious concern over the “criminal silence” of the global institutions and powers, he stressed that Islamabad should go beyond its “traditional half-hearted” efforts and launch a forceful diplomatic initiative to draw the attention of the world community towards the agonising situation in the held territory.

'Governor rule a non-issue'

“Imposition of governor’s rule and termination of the so-called elected government is insignificant and a non-issue for the people of Jammu and Kashmir because every state government has always been a puppet and subservient to New Delhi,” the UJC chief, who is also supreme commander of Hizbul Mujahideen — the largest and mainly indigenous constituent of the alliance, was quoted as saying.

He said the so called Ramazan ceasefire and talks offer by Indian government had been devoid of sincerity and seriousness.

He was referring to a May 16 announcement by India’s Home Ministry that its forces would not launch any operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the month of Ramzan. Two weeks later, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said that the government was ready to hold dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference leadership if it came forward for talks.

"I have already said that we are ready for dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir. If Hurriyat comes forward for talks, we don't mind talking to them. Whoever wants to talk with us, we are ready for talks," Singh had told a TV channel, according to India's PTI news agency.

However, Salahuddin said today that both promises had turned out to be “hoax” as there had been no let up in the killing of Kashmiris during the month of fasting.

“Had there been some seriousness and good intention behind these offers, the militant leadership would certainly have given a positive response,” he said.

Regarding the dialogue, he pointed out that “talks for the sake of talks” had miserably failed in the past and added that their fate in future could hardly be different.

The UJC chief emphasised that the dialogue process could not be made meaningful and result-oriented without acknowledging and realising the ground reality in Jammu and Kashmir and historical facts linked with the longstanding issue.

“The sooner this reality is realised the better it will be for the global peace,” he maintained.

Salahuddin also warned that the Bharatiya Janata Party's outrage at the pro-freedom Kashmiri people and its plans and actions to suppress the freedom movement through use of brute force would prove detrimental to India itself.

He recalled that over the past 70 years, India had tried both coercion and money to subdue and lure the Kashmiris but to no avail, as each passing day had witnessed greater intensity in the resolve of Kashmiris.

Shujaat Bukhari's murder

The UJC also condemned the murder of celebrated journalist Dr Syed Shujaat Bukhari and criticised accusations in Indian media that those who disagreed with Bukhari's views or activities had been responsible for his killing.

The Indian media has carried reports blaming the UJC and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba for orchestrating the attack on the journalist, a charge both outfits have strongly denied.

Bukhari had reportedly been pro-dialogue and had supported an Indian government ceasefire in Kashmir during the month of Ramazan, which, as some Indian media outlets have alleged, had turned hardline militants against him.

However, Salahuddin today slammed the allegation, condemning Bukhari's murder as "a ghastly act of the highest degree" and adding that it was "condemnable to blame those who differed with his ideology or activities".

“Such a thought is illogical and unrealistic … It reflects a criminal approach,” Salahuddin was quoted as saying.

“The killing of Shujaat Bukhari at a time when the UN Human Rights Commission released a report on the human rights abuses by Indian forces in Kashmir raises many questions,” the newspaper Greater Kashmir had previously quoted Salahuddin as saying in a statement.

Salahuddin had also said they have a “firm belief that Indian agencies and their agents were behind the murder of Bukhari.”

Today, the militant leader suggested that the Kashmir Bar Association and human rights watchdogs play a role in exposing the “elements or institutions” involved in Bukhari’s killing.