Press Trust of india

Divergent views put question mark over its continuation

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Fate of Ramazan ceasefire hands in balance

New Delhi, June 14 : 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 today.

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 Ramazan 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 Ramazan, “militants have been able to regroup, move more freely and convince youngsters to join them,” they said.

“The increase in attacks on government forces, including today’s kidnapping of an Army-man (who was later shot dead) from south Kashmir, may embolden them more, thereby creating threat to the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra as some militant groups, including JK-ISIS as well as Gazwat-ul-Hind, a group owing allegiance to Al-Qaeda, have rejected the Ramazan ceasefire,” officials said.

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 sansitisation of route to Amarnath Yatra was discussed so that the government forces gain an upper hand during the two-month long pilgrimage beginning June 28.

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.

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 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 Ramazan that year which continued for five months.

Almost all militant 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 subsequent action.

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.

Earlier National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval said that the purpose of Ramazan ceasefire has been achieved as “people in Kashmir are happy”.

“We wanted to give respite to the common man in the Valley during Ramazan, so they can observe the holy month peacefully. And during Ramazan we stuck to our stance. The people there are happy and the purpose is served,” Doval was quoted as having said by NDTV.

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