Centre withdraws ceasefire, directs security forces to resume ops

MHA calls upon people to isolate militants

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, June 17: In the wake of spurt in violence in the Kashmir valley during past few days, the Government of India today announced withdrawal of conditional ceasefire announced for the month of Ramzan in Jammu and Kashmir and directed security forces to take all necessary actions as earlier to prevent militants from launching attacks and indulging in violence and killings.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced the decision through an official statement issued this morning and series of tweets. Prior to the announcement to withdraw ceasefire, Rajnath during past few days had held high-level security review with top officials of Centre and J&K Governments and also briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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“The Government of India has decided not to extend the suspension of operations in Jammu and Kashmir announced at the beginning of Ramzan. Operations against militants will resume,” the official MHA statement said.
Rajnath had on May 17 announced suspension of operations in Jammu and Kashmir for the holy month of Ramzan. The deadline expired last night with Eid celebrations. While announcing the decision, the Union Home Minister had made it clear that security forces reserved the right to retaliate, if attacked by the militants during the period of conditional ceasefire.
“Security forces are being directed to take all necessary actions as earlier to prevent militants from launching¬† attacks and indulging in violence and killing,” the statement said.
However, at the same time, it added that the Government will continue with its endeavour to create an environment free of terror and violence in Jammu and Kashmir. For the purpose, it sought the help of peace loving people of Kashmir.
“It is important that all sections of peace loving people come together to isolate the militants and motivate those, who have been misguided, to return to the path of peace,” the Union Home Ministry said.
The MHA strongly commended the role of security forces for implementing the decision (suspension of operations) despite provocations.
“The Government commends the role of security forces for having implemented the decision in letter and spirit in the face of grave provocation to enable the Muslim brothers and sisters to observe Ramzan in a peaceful manner,” it said, adding this has been widely appreciated by the people all over the country including Jammu and Kashmir.
The Union Home Ministry said the suspension of operations brought relief to the common citizens during the month of Ramzan.
Putting the onus on militants for withdrawal of conditional ceasefire, the MHA statement said: “it was expected that everyone will cooperate in ensuring the success of this initiative (the suspension of operations). While the security forces have displayed exemplary restraint during this period, the militants continued with their attacks, both on civilians and security forces, resulting into deaths and injuries”.
Sources asserted that withdrawal of conditional ceasefire had become imminent in view of spurt in militant attacks across various parts of Kashmir and latest killings of `Rising Kashmir’ Editor Shujaat Bukhari and his two PSOs and Army soldier Aurangzeb after kidnapping on the eve of Eid festival blocked even the remote chances for any kind of extension.
Noting that increase in level of violence was “well-planned strategy” of the militants, executed at the behest of their Pakistan-based mentors, sources pointed out that this was done to sabotage ceasefire.
Upcoming annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji in South Kashmir Himalayas, which would start on June 28, was also stated to be one of the reasons for resumption of operations against the militants as some of the security agencies had flagged concerns about presence of militants in South Kashmir.
Sixty days long annual pilgrimage starting June 28 will conclude on August 26 and in view of last year’s militant attack on yatra vehicle in which eight pilgrims were killed and scores of others were injured, the Government didn’t want to take any chance this year.
While there was no reaction from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on withdrawal of conditional ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir by the Union Home Minister, National Conference vice president and former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah took a dig at some State BJP leaders, who were upbeat about the calling off of the unilateral ceasefire.
In his tweet, Omar wrote it was “the Centre’s initiative and yet these people are celebrating its failure as if it had been announced by our enemies. It’s failure is the failure of everyone who wanted to give peace a chance”.
According to officials, there were 18 incidents of terror between April 17 to May 17 this year and the figure rose to above 50 during the suspension of operations.
The suspension of operations saw brutal killings which included that of an Army soldier by militants, attacks on civilians propagating moderate approach and finally gunning down of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari, who was a strong voice of peace, they said.
The security agencies had alerted the Government about designs by certain terror groups to disrupt the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra beginning June 28 and the need for conducting some operations in South Kashmir.
“We have to take the decision in the right spirit. The Home Ministry has taken note of all the inputs available and decided that suspension of operation, which was carried out for one month, will no longer continue,” sources said.
During his visit to Jammu and Kashmir on June 7 and 8, Rajnath had reviewed post-ceasefire situation with top brass of all security and Intelligence agencies in the Valley followed by another review meeting in New Delhi on June 14. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also reviewed the situations on June 15.
This was for the second time only in about three decades long militancy in Jammu and Kashmir that ceasefire was announced by the Centre Government. In November 2000, then NDA Government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee had announced ceasefire on the occasion of Ramzan, which was extended four times till May 2001 but was withdrawn following increase in militant violence.