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Centre declares conditional ceasefire against militants from today
Forces in J&K to stop Ops during Ramzan
KT NEWS SERVICE
NEW DELHI/JAMMU, May 16: In a big announcement offering reprieve to people in violence-torn Kashmir, the Centre Wednesday asked the “security forces not to launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir” (against the militants) during holy month of Ramzan beginning tomorrow.

However, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ decision of “Non-Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO)”, which is being termed as a major Confidence Building Measure (CBM) by majority sections despite its rejection by terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), has come with a rider.

“The security forces reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people,” the big announcement spelt out the rider, amidst bit discordant notes emanating from army and other security forces.

Nevertheless, the announcement has come as an acceptance to the proposal of the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who last week had convened an All Party Meet in Srinagar and mooted it (proposal).

Earlier in the day, in a series of tweets, the MHA on its twitter handle said, “The Centre asks Security Forces not to launch operations in Jammu & Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan. Decision taken to help the peace loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment.”

It said that the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has informed the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the Centre’s decision.

“It is important to isolate the forces that bring a bad name to Islam by resorting to mindless violence and terror. Government expects everyone to cooperate in this initiative and help the Muslim brothers & sisters to observe Ramzan peacefully and without any difficulties. However, the forces reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people,” it further tweeted.

According to official figures, 275 militants were killed since the Operation All Out, aimed at wiping out militancy in Kashmir, was started in March 2017. This year so far, 65 militants have been killed including top commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen.

In the meanwhile in J&K, the Inspector General of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Ravideep Sahi stated that a part of `Operation All Out’, random CASOs would stop during Ramzan.

“In Ramzan, anti-militancy operations will be based on a very specific human intelligence about the presence of militants,” Inspector General of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) said. “We will not go for random CASOs in this month,” he said.

Earlier Director General of Police, S P Vaid also hinted only intelligence-based operations would be carried out during the fasting month.

“I hope to see people praying in mosques and shrines in large numbers without any fear,” Vaid said.

Security forces will go back to the existing CASO strategy of random and surprise area domination for entrapping militants immediately after Eid-ul-Fitr.

Earlier following not very encouraging response from the Centre to her call last week, the Chief Minister had directed security forces to adopt a calibrated approach while dealing with protests and armed encounters with militants during the month of Ramzan and the upcoming Amarnath pilgrimage.

“All components of the security establishment are on board about the decision, to facilitate ‘peaceful Ramzan. We will wait for the specific input based both human and technical intelligence and only then launch anti-militancy operations. There would be no frequent cordons or search operations as has been the practice of forces so far,” stated a senior police officer on the condition of anonymity.

On the other hand, responding to union government's announcement of suspension of operations during the holy month of Ramzan, the army said their concerns have been addressed by the government. “Military can retaliate in case of an attack on themselves. Only cordon and search operations will cease, but the Army can still go ahead with combat operations if specific intelligence inputs are available,” agency reports said quoting anonymous sources.

“At present, the intensity of operations is keeping the terrorists on the run, and nearly 65 of them killed in the first four months,” the reports said further quoting army sources.

The holy month of Ramzan begins on Thursday while the annual Amarnath pilgrimage, lasting for nearly 50 days, commences June 28.

The Central government's announcement of suspension of operations comes days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday. The visit is aimed at reviewing the development projects in the state being undertaken under the prime minister’s development package. However, with the recent operations by security forces and the stone pelting incidents, the Central government had come under fire. It also gave an opportunity for the state government to blame the Centre for the unrest and alienation of youth.

Mehbooba’s proposal for unilateral ceasefire had stirred a political slugfest between the PDP and the BJP in the state with the latter accusing the Chief Minister of politicising the matter. The central government had also expressed its disagreement, with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman backing the army and the operations against militants in the valley.

The BJP government at the Centre has been able to do a balancing act with its announcement to halt operations during Ramzan, at the same time conveying to the security forces that the right to retaliate remains with them.

During last 6-month ceasefire announced during Atal Behari Vajpayee government in 2000, named as Non-Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO), militants had attacked the Srinagar airport, stormed the then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s public rally, and conducted suicide attack on army cantonment in Srinagar besides stepping up levels of violence. The NICO came into effect on November 19, 2000 and lasted till May 31, 2001. More than 180 security personnel were killed while 240 militants were gunned down during the four months of NICO. However, 260 civilians died and over 500 others were injured in the same period of NICO.


News Updated at : Thursday, May 17, 2018
 
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