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Ceasefire Significant But it Will Make Job of Army More Complicated, Says Lt Gen DS Hooda

Just a week after Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti proposed the idea of a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir during Ramzan, the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday gave its approval, but the army has insisted that it is not a blanket ban.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:May 18, 2018, 2:21 PM IST
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Ceasefire Significant But it Will Make Job of Army More Complicated, Says Lt Gen DS Hooda
Image of a clash between protesters and security forces in Srinagar. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
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New Delhi: The central government may have approved the ceasefire in Jammu & Kashmir during Ramzan, but the move can’t be an end in itself. Speaking to News18 former commanding-in-chief of the Northern Command, Lt Gen (retd) DS Hooda said that ceasefire is a huge confidence building measure that the government has taken, but “needs to be carried forward.”

Killing Terrorists Alone Can’t Be Measured As Success

“The purpose of suspending operations must be clear. If it is to allow local recruits to surrender during the ceasefire. What after that? There has to be a proper rehabilitation process and other attempts made at ensuring that he integrates well into society,” Lt Gen Hooda said, adding that various issues plague the state, including unemployment, rising radicalisation and others.

“If the ceasefire is part of a larger plan, then it has chances at being successful. It should be part of a series of confidence building measures. If it’s a standalone suspension of operations, it may not make significant difference,” he told News18, adding that over the years, violence had increased in the Valley.

“We might gauge our success by saying that we have neutralised more terrorists. But fact remains that violence has gone up too. One always hears that the situation is not as bad as it was in 2000. True. But start from 2012-13, situation in Jammu & Kashmir has only deteriorated. We are losing more civilian lives. We are still unable to hold an election in Anantnag,” he said.

According to data available with South Asia Terrorism Portal, around 760 people have died in J&K since 2016 — the year Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter.

Though some of these fatalities have occurred in border areas and some have been reported from Jammu, but most of these deaths have happened in encounters in Kashmir. The recruitment of local boys among the terror groups has increased. One person is picking up gun every third day suggesting that only military engagement may not work in Kashmir.

“An anti-government narrative is being propagated in the state. How do you fight this narratives? Neutralising terrorists can’t be the only way to gauge success; there are many other factors that need to be looked — radicalisation, divide between Jammu and Kashmir, development, youth angst etc,” he said.

Brunt of Ceasefire Will Fall On Army

“There will be challenges for the Army. Yes, political decisions do take precedence but the brunt of the decision will fall on the Army which is operating on ground,” he added. The former commander, under whom India carried out the surgical strikes against Pakistan in 2016, further said that it was important for the ceasefire decision to lay out what all the Army can do.

“The ceasefire will be one-sided. I don’t see any terrorist outfit accepting the ceasefire from their end. So dealing with that is going to be a major challenge,” he said. Indeed, Laskar-e-Taiba, in an email to a Kashmiri news agency, rejected the ceasefire and called it a ‘drama’. Later on Thursday, Ansar Ghazwatul Hind, the Al-Qaeda cell in Kashmir, also took to their handle on a messaging application and released a video, allegedly from deputy Rehan Khan, advocating jihad in a way similar to doing namaaz. “I think the message of the ceasefire is more for the local people in the state than it for the militants who are unlikely to respond,” said the former Northern Commander.

“Is there any difference in the ceasefire in the manner in which the Army engages a local terrorist and a foreign terrorist?” he explained, adding that the Army has to protect their convoys, forces, conduct area domination and ensure there is no infiltration from the borders. “With ceasefire, it will undoubtedly make the job of the Army more complicated,” he said.

Just a week after Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti proposed the idea of a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir during Ramzan, the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday gave its approval, but the army has insisted that it is not a blanket ban. “It’s a good thing if it helps in reducing violence but the ceasefire cannot be an end in itself,” Lt Gen Hooda said.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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