Previous experience not encouraging, security agencies skeptical about fresh ceasefire
New Delhi, May 17: Hindsight of a similar exercise in the past not being very encouraging, the security agencies are keeping their fingers crossed over a fresh “unilateral ceasefire” announced by the Centre during Ramazan beginning today.
Officials recall that a similar initiative nearly two decades ago had witnessed the killings of 129 people including 43 security personnel. They also say the militant 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 government forces would not launch any operation in the state during the holy month of Ramazan 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, militants carried out three ‘fidayeen’ (suicide) attacks on army cantonment, police control room and Srinagar airport.
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 Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.
From November 19, 2000 to May 23, 2001, 44 militants 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 03, 2001 and 15 civilians 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 army-men.
According to the officials, the number of militants killed during the period was 44, civilians 42, army (six), police (24) and other forces (13).
This included a ‘fidayeen’ attack by militants at the Jammu and Kashmir Police control room on February 09, in which 12 people — eight policemen and four militants — were killed.
During the period, nine forces’ personnel were killed in two landmine blasts in Pulwama and Kaigam on January 18, and 15 policemen and two civilians were killed in an ambush by militants at Morha Chatru in Rajouri district on March 02, 2001.
The NICO ended on May 23 after Vajpayee chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security.
‘Army on board over Ramazan ceasefire in Kashmir’
Press Trust of India
New Delh, May 17: The Army was taken into confidence and its concerns were addressed before arriving at a decision that the forces will not launch any operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramazan, government sources said.
Sources, however, said that “limited operations” based on specific intelligence will continue.
“Army has been given the right to retaliate to any attack,” a source said.
The Home Ministry said the forces reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people.
During this period, road opening and sanitisation of routes will continue.
The decision not to launch any operations during Ramazan was taken to help the “peace-loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment”, a Home Ministry spokesperson said.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah welcomed the Centre’s decision.
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 Ramazan in 2000.