NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday pulled off a surprise by accepting Chief Minister Mebhooba Mufti’s proposal to suspend anti-terror operations in J&K, saying the decision has been taken to help “peace-loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment”.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, however, clarified that security forces will retaliate if they are attacked or “if it was essential to protect the lives of innocent people”.The announcement mirrors the template developed during the unilateral ceasefire declared by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2000, yet senior home ministry officials insisted on not calling it a truce, saying operations had only been suspended for the month of Ramzan.
The gesture that comes just three days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Valley on May 19, is expected ease the tension in the Valley, which has witnessed the killing of over 55 militants and at least 27 locals this year. Modi is due to inaugurate a 330 MW Kishenganga hydroelectric project in Kashmir’s Budgam district and participate in the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Ladakhi spiritual leader Kushak Bakula.
Sources in the security establishment termed the decision as hugely significant and said the next few days would reveal if a respite can create the space for normalcy and some political initiatives after stepped-up counterterrorism in 2017 and 2018.Critics have been vocal about the muscular, aggressive approach of the government, saying it had actually encouraged terrorists to draw new recruits.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “It is important that all peace loving people should come together to isolate the terrorists and motivate those who have been misguided to return to the path of peace.”
Hizb likes the idea, seeks feedback
Srinagar: Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahauddin appears to be interested in making a reciprocal gesture and is seeking feedback from his local commanders before taking a final call, reports Fayaz Wani.
This announcement will go a long way in healing the wounds of people of the State, who have been suffering the tragedies and pain of violence and uncertainty for the last three decades, says Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti