Centre open to extending ceasefire in J&K after Ramzan: Rajnath

Rajnath Singh hinted that the Centre could be open to the possibility of keeping suspension of the operation against J&K militants even after Ramzan ends in mid-June. PTI file photo

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday that the government has received a positive feedback on the suspension of operations against Jammu and Kashmir militants during Ramzan in the Valley.

Interacting with journalists, Singh indicated that stone-pelting incidents, as well as militant strikes, have come down since the suspension of operations came a week ago.

Singh hinted that the Centre could be open to the possibility of keeping suspension of the operation against J&K militants even after Ramzan ends in mid-June. The Union home minister, however, said it is a misnomer to call it ceasefire.

"Ceasefire is between two countries. This is not a ceasefire. This is only keeping the operations under suspension to enable people to observe the holy month," he said.

However, Singh's indication coincided with the view expressed by Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat, that the Army was ready to extend the unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir “if things move smoothly.”

“It (halting operations) has brought peace in Kashmir and if things move smoothly we can extend it. But if militants attack the security forces during this period of time, then we may have to again think seriously about a ceasefire,” Gen Rawat told reporters at the Army Goodwill School in Pahalgam, 100 km away from Srinagar, on Friday. The Army chief had arrived in Srinagar on Thursday and reviewed the prevailing security situation in Kashmir.

The home ministry had on May 16 asked security forces not to launch operations in J&K during the holy month of Ramzan. The ministry had said that the decision had been taken to help the "peace-loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment."

The Centre had also said that the security forces reserved "the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people".

The government has, however, been concerned that, in the wake of the ceasefire, there has been an increase in firing and shelling by Pakistan along the border. Security forces have been retaliating with full force. 

Even as Pakistan took the brunt following retributive Indian shelling, Arnia border town and nearly 120 hamlets along the Indo-Pak border were evacuated. More than one lakh villagers are said to have abandoned their homes to escape heavy shelling of mortar bombs.

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Centre open to extending ceasefire in J&K after Ramzan: Rajnath

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