Security forces will not launch any operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan, a move seen as a bid to bring peace and provide a conducive atmosphere in the restive valley.
The announcement by the Home Ministry comes two days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday
Today’s decision has been taken to help the peace loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment, a Home Ministry spokesperson said
The Ministry said the security forces, however, reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah welcomed the Centre’s decision
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 Ramzan in 2000
Today’s announcement comes a week after Mufti had said that the central government should consider a unilateral ceasefire in the state starting from Ramzan till the completion of the Amarnath yatra in August
The fasting month of Ramzan is likely to start tomorrow or Friday depending on sighting of the moon and ends on Eid
However, the ministry did not mention whether the suspension of operations against the militants will continue during the Amarnath yatra which will start on June 28 and conclude on August 26
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has informed Mufti of the central government’s decision
“It is important to isolate the forces that bring a bad name to Islam by resorting to mindless violence and terror,” the spokesperson said.?
The government expects everyone to cooperate in this initiative and help the Muslim brothers and sisters to observe Ramzan peacefully and without any difficulties, the spokesperson said
During his Independence Day address last year, Modi had said bullets or abuses will not resolve the Kashmir issue and that it can be addressed by embracing every Kashmiri
Modi had said his government is committed to restoring the lost glory of Kashmir and its status as ‘heaven on earth’
The prime minister had said only a “handful of separatists” were resorting to different tactics to create problems in the state and asserted that there will be no soft approach towards terrorism
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 Ramzan that year which continued for five months
Almost all terrorists 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 retaliatory firing
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 with the intention of giving the militants an opportunity to escape.