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Ramzan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir to end, security ops will resume, says Rajnath Singh

The government on Sunday decided not to extend the suspension of operations in J&K announced at the beginning of Ramzan.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2018 23:26 IST
Rajesh Ahuja and Mir Ehsan
Rajesh Ahuja and Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Srinagar
Kashmir ceasefire,Rajnath Singh,Ceasefire
CRPF personnel stand guard near a shop on the first day of Ramzan, in Srinagar.(PTI File Photo)

The Union government on Sunday said it was discontinuing the suspension of military operations in Jammu and Kashmir as the holy Islamic month of Ramzan was over, and announced the full resumption of cordon-and-search and search-and-destroy operations in the state to prevent terror attacks.

The same evening, a 45-year-old man was killed in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district after unidentified gunmen barged into his house and opened fire at him, police said. Iqbal Kawak was an employee with the consumer affairs and public distribution department, said Kulgam SP Harmeet Singh.

Earlier, home minister Rajnath Singh said that the May 17 decision to suspend operations had been taken “in the interests of the peace-loving people of J&K in order to provide them a conducive atmosphere to observe Ramzan”.

Though the government did not call it a ceasefire, it was the first such truce in the troubled state in more than 17 years.

“It was expected that everyone will cooperate in ensuring the success of this initiative. While the security forces have displayed exemplary restraint during this period, the terrorists have continued with their attacks on civilians and security forces, resulting in deaths and injuries. Security forces are now being directed to take all necessary actions as earlier to prevent terrorists from launching attacks and indulging in violence and killings,” Singh wrote on Twitter.

Jammu and Kashmir’s chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who had first asked for the ceasefire, had been appealing to the Centre for an extension of the truce period. The issue was being deliberated on at the highest levels of the government for the last two weeks, but officials said a recent spate in violence in the Valley played a role in the decision.

A senior home ministry official said on the condition of anonymity that three principal issues weighed on the government’s mind — security arrangements for the 60-day long annual Amarnath Yatra that starts on June 28, spike in violence in the second half of Ramzan that included the of killing of prominent journalist Shujaat Bukhari, and a less-than-enthusiastic response to the initiative from the Valley’s separatist leadership.

“The first half of Ramzan went well, but the violence just before the Eid (Saturday) really tied the hands of the government as the security of Amarnath Yatra became a paramount concern. Whenever the sentiments in the Valley start improving, Pakistan scales up violence there, and we believe that the separatists should have shown more enthusiasm in lapping up the opportunity,” the official added.

Underlining the significance of a peaceful Amarnath Yatra, Udhampur MP and minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh said: “It is a symbol of composite culture of the country and the Jammu and Kashmir with centuries-old tradition where Hindus are the pilgrims and Muslims are the hosts. The government wanted to ensure that no mischief happens during the Yatra.”

The Valley witnessed a total of 41 killings since May 17 — the most prominent among them the drive-by shooting of journalist Bukhari and his two private security officers on Thursday, and the abduction and killing the same day by militants of Rashtriya Rifles jawan, Aurangazeb, in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Former J&K chief minister, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference said the decision to end the truce was the “failure of everyone who wanted to peace a chance”.

The state Congress president, Ghulam Ahmad Mir said it showed the Centre did not have any concrete policy vis-à-vis Kashmir. “(The) government of India has no road map or concrete policy about Kashmir. It is not ever clear, whether the Centre had taken its coalition partner (PDP - Mehbooba’s Peoples Democratic Party) on board over the withdrawal of the ceasefire,’’ he said.

While Mehbooba did not issue a statement, senior PDP minister Naeem Akhtar termed the Centre’s decision as “sad”. “It was an important measure that could have set stage for purposeful dialogue not reciprocated except with provocative attacks. It could have led to way out of bloodshed and destruction. But for that everyone had to be on board,” he said.

Another home ministry official blamed the leaders of the All Party Hurriyat Conference for playing into the hands of Pakistan with their “lukewarm response”.

Separatist leaders, who had said last month that the Union government was giving them mixed signals, did not respond to calls. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Hurriyat Conference chairman did not issue any reaction. In his Eid sermon on Saturday, the Mirwaiz had said that Kashmir was a political issue which could never be tackled through military and had told the government that “engagement among three stakeholders” (India, Pakistan and the separatists) is the assured way to move forward.’’

(With inputs from Ashiq Hussain in Srinagar)

First Published: Jun 17, 2018 11:24 IST