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Govt Does A U-Turn On Kashmir, Says No Armed Forces Operations During Ramzan

Move contrary to BJP leader Ram Madhav’s recent statements.

Security forces will not launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan, the Union home ministry announced on Wednesday. But security Forces will reserve the right to retaliate if attacked, according to the directive.

The move has surprised many because BJP general secretary Ram Madhav had until recently maintained that “terrorist organisations” must initiate such a ceasefire first. The move is a clear indication of a change in the Centre’s Kashmir strategy after a more muscular approach only ended up fuelling anger in the Valley and led to a phenomenal rise in educated Kashmiris joining the recent surge in militancy.

Home Ministry document:

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and several other parties had asked the Centre to declare “a unilateral ceasefire for the month of Ramzan and the period of the Amarnath Yatra” on May 9.

“The Centre asks Security Forces not to launch operations in Jammu & Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan. The decision was taken to help the peace-loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment,” the home ministry announced on Twitter on Wednesday. “Security Forces to reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people. The government expects everyone to cooperate in this initiative and help the Muslim brothers & sisters to observe Ramzan peacefully and without any difficulties,” another tweet from the HMO added.

An all-party meet in Srinagar on May 9 had unanimously requested the Government of India to consider a “unilateral ceasefire in view of the coming month of Ramzan and Amarnath Yatra to extend relief to the masses”. “The parties suggested that the Centre offer the ceasefire as former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did in [November] 2000,” Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said after the meeting.

In August 2000, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had announced a similar ceasefire during a visit to Srinagar. “I hope that our gesture will be fully appreciated… all violence in the state and infiltration across the Line of Control and the International Border will cease and peace will prevail,” Vajpayee had said.