Srinagar: New Delhi has announced that government forces will halt security operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramadan.
In a tweet, Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced the decision to stop security operations for one month. He also called Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to inform her about the decision.
“The Centre asks Security Forces not to launch operations in Jammu & Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan. Decision taken to help the peace loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment. HM Shri @rajnathsingh has informed the Chief Minister, J&K of Centre’s decision,” the Home Minister tweeted.
However, Singh said that forces reserved the right to retaliate if attacked by militants.
“Security Forces reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people. Government expects everyone to cooperate in this initiative and help the Muslim brothers & sisters to observe Ramzan peacefully and without any difficulties,” he said.
The Chief Minister, who has been calling for the halting of operations for some time now, welcomed the decision and said it would go a long way in healing the wounds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir who have been suffering from the tragedies and pain of violence and uncertainty for the past three decades or longer.
Mehbooba, while reacting to the Centre’s decision, said “I wholeheartedly welcome the Ramadan ceasefire and would like to thank Narender Modi Ji and Rajnath Singh for their personal intervention. My gratitude goes also to the leaders and parties who participated in the All Party Meeting and helped build consensus towards this announcement.”
In another tweet, she said that the month of Ramadan is a harbinger of peace, and such a decision will go a long way in creating a peaceful and amicable environment for sustained dialogue.
The Chief Minister urged all groups to reciprocate positively to the gesture which is aimed at giving relief to the people of the State who have seen enough torment and tragedy.
Earlier the ruling coalition partner Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) had categorically dismissed halting of operations in Kashmir.
The Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had also snubbed the state government, saying that a unilateral ceasefire was not an option.
The decision was welcomed by the main opposition National Conference hours after the announcement of the suspension of operations in Jammu and Kashmir
National Conference Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani said “the other sides should reciprocate the offer of ceasefire, and all possibilities for dialogue with all stake holders should be explored immediately so that guns don’t start booming immediately after Eid-ul-Fitr again”.
Ruling People’s Democratic party’s (PDP) Chief Spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir also hailed the Home Minister’s decision to stop operations.
In a statement provided to The Kashmir Press, Mir termed it as a “change maker confidence building measure that will go a long way in restoring peace in the valley.”
Mir further said that the PDP’s firm resolve of peace through reconciliation is a tested political way forward that has served the interests of the people, and this development of ceasefire is another ray of hope that the party sees for a peaceful valley.