‘Cease­fire’ ex­ten­sion hangs fire

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - Ra­jesh Ahuja

NEW DELHI: 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.

PTI FILE

CRPF per­son­nel stand guard in Sri­na­gar af­ter the Cen­tre gave its ap­proval to J&K chief min­is­ter Meb­hooba Mufti’s pro­posal for a cease­fire in the state dur­ing Ramzan.

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