Ramzan ceasefire extension hangs in balance as home ministry expresses support, security agencies flag demerits

New Delhi: The fate of the Centre's one-month-old policy of suspension of operations against militants in Jammu and Kashmir hangs in the balance, with a few security agencies flagging its disadvantages including regrouping of militants and some within the Home Ministry being in favour of extending it with a rider that intelligence-based operations should be increased, officials said on Thursday.

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. News18

File image of Union minister Rajnath Singh. News18

At a meeting called by Union home minister Rajnath Singh to review security for the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, the pros and cons of the unilateral ceasefire during the holy month of Ramzan move were discussed with officials from central and state governments, security agencies and paramilitary forces, they said. The security agencies highlighted that during the halt to operations in the holy month of Ramzan, militants have been able to regroup, move more freely and convince youngsters to join them, they said.

The increase in attacks on security forces, including Thursday's kidnapping of an army man from South Kashmir, may embolden them more, thereby creating threat to the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra as some militant groups, including Jammu and Kashmir Islamic State as well as Gazwat-ul-Hind, a group owing allegiance to Al-Qaeda, have rejected the Ramzan ceasefire.

Policy makers in the Home Ministry, however, are still debating on the gains and losses of the move and advocated extending it with a rider that army and security personnel should be allowed to carry out intelligence-based operations more frequently even if it was in civilian areas, they said. The officials said a need for carrying out sanitisation of the route to Amarnath Yatra was discussed so that the security forces gain an upper hand during the two-month long pilgrimage beginning 28 June.

The move of the Centre is similar to the Non-Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO) announced by the first NDA government, headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, during Ramzan in 2000. During his Independence Day address last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said bullets or abuses would not resolve the Kashmir issue and that it could be addressed by embracing every Kashmiri.

Modi had said his government was committed to restoring the lost glory of Kashmir and its status as "heaven on earth".

The prime minister had said only a "handful of separatists" were resorting to different tactics to create problems in the state and asserted that there would be no soft approach towards terrorism. The first NDA government, headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had taken a similar initiative in 2000 by announcing a unilateral suspension of operations for Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan that year which continued for five months.

Almost all terrorists groups operating in the Valley in 2000 had rejected the government offer. However, the NICO was discontinued after five months after increased violence, including an attack at the Srinagar airport in which six militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba stormed it killing two security personnel and two civilians.

All six militants were also killed in the retaliatory firing.

The Valley has witnessed the killing of over 55 militants including at least 27 locals this year. The situation in Kashmir Valley is considered to be turbulent where nearly 80 incidents of violence occurred in last four months and civilians were often seen coming out to encounter sites to stage protests with the intention of giving the militants an opportunity to escape.

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Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 21:51:45 IST

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