As terrorist activities continued even after the announcement of a month-long suspension of anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre on Sunday decided not to extend its unilateral initiative, declared on 16 May to coincide with the holy month, evoking dismay among people in the state.
The home ministry announcement, a day after Eid festivities, said that operations against the militants will resume. "The Government of India decides not to extend the suspension of operations in Jammu and Kashmir announced in the beginning of Ramzan," a ministry statement said.
It said the "security forces are being directed to take all necessary actions as earlier to prevent the militants from launching attacks and indulging in violence and killings".
"The government is committed to working for creating an environment free of terror and violence in Jammu and Kashmir. It is important that all those who have interests of people of the state and especially the youth in mind to isolate the terrorists and work towards bringing back misguided youth to the right path," the statement said.
The home ministry appreciated the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir for showing "exemplary restraint" during Ramzan despite grave provocation by the terrorists.
When the conditional suspension of anti-terror operations began, it was assumed that it would be extended to cover the upcoming Amarnath Yatra. But unending violence by militants, who continued to target and kill security personnel, forced the government's hands.
A record 20 grenade attacks, 50 militant strikes and 41 killings took place in Kashmir during the month-long suspension of security operations, officials quoted by Hindustan Times said.
According to officials, there were 18 incidents of terror between 17 April to 17 May and the figure rose to more than 50 during the suspension of operations.
'Decision in favour of peace-living Kashmiris'
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in a series of tweets said that the decision to not conduct counter insurgency operations in the state had been taken "in the interests of the peace-loving people of Jammu and Kashmir, in order to provide them a conducive atmosphere to observe Ramzan".
He said though the security forces had "displayed exemplary restraint" during the suspension of anti-terror operations that has been "widely appreciated all over the country including Jammu and Kashmir in bringing relief to the common citizens, the terrorists have continued with their attacks on civilians and (security forces), resulting in deaths and injuries". "The operations against the terrorists (are) to resume," he said.
Nine security men, including four army jawans, were killed during the period. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had been one of the first leaders in the Valley to welcome the move. She had hoped that the Centre would continue with the decision even after Ramzan, paving the way for negotiations at a later stage. But the operations suspension failed to have the desired effect as Kashmir saw militant-related incidents almost double during the period.
Suspension of anti-terror ops' failure a 'failure of peace process'
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Rafi Ahmad Mir expressed unhappiness over the Central government's decision not to extend.
Mir said, "The party was not happy with the decision announced by the Union home ministry in view of the unending violence during Ramzan, blamed mostly on militants."
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said: "The ceasefire was the Centre's initiative... Its failure is the failure of everyone who wanted to give peace a chance."
Refuting that the end of the suspension of anti-terror activities indicated a failure of peace efforts, deputy chief minister and BJP leader Kavinder Gupta said: "This was just suspension of operations. A befitting reply will be given to everyone who indulged in such activities."
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Jitendra Singh, said the priority for the government was to conduct the upcoming Amarnath Yatra and the decision not to extend the truce followed inputs from security forces and intelligence agencies.
CPM leader Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami said: "Whatever the compulsions and the provocation, the decision not to extend is unfortunate. The common Kashmiri had heaved a sigh of relief and that hope has now vanished."
Militants exploited the Ramzan peace
While incidents of stone pelting reduced during the period of Ramzan, recruitment of local youths by militant groups and incidents of grenade lobbying rose alarmingly, according to a report in The New Indian Express.
According to the latest data compiled by the Centre, as many as 23 youths were recruited by militant groups during the first 19 days of the suspension of anti-terror operations.
The data, accessed by The New Indian Express in the report, also shows that of the total number of grenade lobbying incidents reported in the month of May, more than 80 percent, took place during the period alone.
Defence experts, meanwhile, questioned the need for having a unilateral 'ceasefire' in the Kashmir Valley during the Muslim fasting month of Ramzan, maintaining that this had been fully exploited by militants, according to a Business Standard report.
"Apparently, the opportunity that came their way by the way of unilateral ceasefire has been fully exploited by militants and separatists for conducting anti-India activities. It is time that security forces should be given free hand to do what they were doing earlier," an expert said.
"Bandipora lays abeam the principal communication artery that connects Srinagar t0 Kargil and border. So, this is one area where every day the convoys are moving up and down. This operation has been going on for the last six days," he added.
According to a Hindustan Times report, up until the attack in Pulwama, Kashmir had witnessed 54 incidents of violence since the Central government announced the Ramzan ceasefire. Most such attacks took place in the districts of south Kashmir.
The data collected by the home ministry indicates that militant-related incidents in the Kashmir Valley increased by more than 100 percent during the Ramzan ceasefire.
Before the ceasefire was announced, from 19 April to 16 May, there were 25 militant-related cases reported. But after the announcement, as many as 66 cases were reported between 17 May and 13 June.
During Ramzan, as many as 62 terror-related incidents were reported, which were initiated by militants, while six were initiated by security forces; 22 cases of grenade attacks were reported and 23 cases of indiscriminate firing by militants were reported.
Even attacks on civilians grew in number. Seven cases of attacks on civilians were reported during the 28 days of Ramzan. In the 28 days before the ceasefire, the figure was only six.
The ceasefire was announced on 16 May to provide a conducive atmosphere during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan. But the separatists had not favourably responded to it from the very beginning.
"It was nothing more than temporary suspension of the killing spree of Kashmiris by Indian armed forces," said an activist of the separatists who did not want to be identified by name.
Some Kashmiris argued that the resumption of offensive operations against militants only proved that there had been no serious application of mind when the ceasefire was announced. "The ceasefire had given a ray of hope to us that the common man would be allowed to live without fear," said 48-year-old Srinagar resident Javaid Ahmad.
With inputs from agencies.
Updated Date: Jun 18, 2018 10:51 AM