No decision yet on ceasefire extension in Jammu and Kashmir: Government officials


No formal and final decision has yet been taken on either extending or ending the suspension of counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir for Ramzan, which culminates in Eid this weekend, government officials familiar with the matter said.

The government said on May 16 that security forces will halt operations against militants for the Islamic holy month, the first such initiative in the troubled state in more than 17 years. The move followed several requests by Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.

“Like the earlier decision to announce halt on operations in Jammu and Kashmir during Ramzan, any decision to extend it or end it, will be taken at the political level. So far no decision has been taken,” said a government official familiar with the matter.

The killing of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari on Thursday evening will likely have a bearing on the decision. It is one of the most high-profile killings in the Valley in many years; Bukhari, writing in his paper ‘Rising Kashmir,’ had supported the halt to operations.

“He was considered close to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti in the state,” said a Jammu and Kashmir cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who is now posted on central deputation.

The officer, who requested anonymity, noted that Bukhari’s brother, Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari, was minister of horticulture, law and parliamentary affairs in the present PDP-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state.

In New Delhi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh chaired an hour-long meeting to review security arrangements for the peaceful conduct of the pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine beginning on June 28. The meeting was attended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba, Jammu and Kashmir police chief SP Vaid, army chief Bipin Rawat, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) chief RR Bhatnagar, Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Rajiv Jain, Border Security Force (BSF) chief KK Sharma, and other home ministry officials dealing with Kashmir.

“The issue of possible extension of the Ramzan halt on operations too was discussed,” an official present at the meeting said. “The Jammu and Kashmir police chief and other key officials were asked about their opinion on the matter as they will have to deal with the fallout on the ground of any decision that the government will take. They provided their inputs and assessment in this regard. ”

There is no doubt that the halt to counter-insurgency operations has had some positive impact in terms of law and order, but militant activity still continues, the official said, requesting anonymity.

“We have given our view, the government has to take a call by weighing costs and benefits of the decision,” he added.

Courtesy : HT

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