Press Trust of india

Ceasefire: Security forces keeping fingers crossed

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New Delhi, May 17:  Security agencies were keeping their fingers crossed over a fresh unilateral ceasefire announced by the Centre during Ramzan beginning today, as a similar exercise nearly two decades ago witnessed the killings of 129 people including 43 security personnel, according to officials.

The security agency officials felt a need to monitor the situation closely as terror groups had used such a window as an opportunity to regroup themselves and carry out more attacks on security establishments.

The Centre yesterday announced that security forces would not launch any operation in the state during the holy month of Ramzan but they reserved the right to retaliate, if attacked.

The announcement came ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.

“It is important to isolate the forces that bring a bad name to Islam by resorting to mindless violence and terror,” a Home Ministry spokesperson had said yesterday.

During his Independence Day address last year, Modi had said bullets or abuses would not resolve the Kashmir issue and that it could be addressed by embracing every Kashmiri.

Quoting data, the officials said that during the unilateral ceasefire, popularly known as NICO — ‘Non Initiation of Combat Operations’, which was announced on November 19, 2000 and came into effect on November 28, terrorists carried out three ‘fidayeen’ (suicide) attacks on army cantonment, police control room and Srinagar airport, and two massacres.

The previous ceasefire, which was announced by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and extended twice — January 24, 2001 and on February 22 of the same year — also witnessed an attack on former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.

From November 19, 2000 to May 23, 2001, 44 terrorists were killed by the security forces. During the period, 42 civilians also died which included massacre of six Sikh civilians at Mehjoor Nagar in Srinagar on February 3, 2001 and 15 civilians by Lashker-e-Taiba terror outfit at Morha Salui in Rajouri district on February 10.

During this period, the first Kashmiri ‘fidayeen’ suicide bomber Afaq Ahmed Shah blew himself along with an explosive-laden car outside Badami Bagh Cantonment area on December 25, killing four security personnel.

According to the officials, the number of terrorists killed during the period was 44, civilians 42, army (six), police (24) and other security forces (13).

This included a ‘fidayeen’ attack by terrorists at the Jammu and Kashmir Police control room on February 9, in which 12 people — eight policemen and four militants — were killed.

During the period, nine security force personnel were killed in two land mine blasts in Pulwama and Kaigam on January 18, and 15 policemen and two civilians were killed in an ambush at Morha Chatru in Rajouri district on March 2, 2001.

The NICO ended on May 23 after Vajpayee chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security.

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