Centre halts security ops in J&K

The security forces reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people, the Home Ministry said.

May 16, 2018 05:17 pm | Updated 10:39 pm IST - New Delhi/Srinagar

Army jawans during a seach operation in Shopian. File

Army jawans during a seach operation in Shopian. File

The Centre has asked the security forces not to launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the month of Ramzan that will begin on Thursday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday.

However, the security forces “...reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if it is essential to protect the lives of innocent people,” he said.

The announcement comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Srinagar on Saturday to open the Kishanganga hydroelectric project at Bandipore in north Kashmir through video-conferencing.

On May 9, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asked the Centre to consider a “unilateral ceasefire” in view of Ramzan and the Amarnath Yatra.

After a meeting of all regional parties in Srinagar, she suggested that the Centre offer the ceasefire as the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, did in [November,] 1999. The BJP, an ally of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, opposed the announcement and said it would not be in the national interest. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Sunday that the Army had to be firm on terrorism and “there will be no let-up on terror... We will take action every minute.”

A senior official of the Home Ministry stressed that this was not a “ceasefire,” but only “suspension of operations” during the month of Ramzan.

‘No lowering of guard’

“This is not a concession to militants. This is meant to make sure that the people do not have any difficulty during the month of Ramzan. The right-thinking people want peace; youngsters want education and good life. Hope militants will not make it difficult for the people. There will be no lowering of guard by security forces,” the official said.

“Decision taken to help the peace-loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment. Government expects everyone to cooperate in this initiative and help the Muslim brothers & sisters to observe Ramzan peacefully and without any difficulties. It is important to isolate the forces that bring a bad name to Islam by resorting to mindless violence and terror,” Mr. Singh posted on Twitter.

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