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News18 Explains: Ramzan Ceasefire Has Been Successful So Far, Will It Last?

During the ceasefire, the encounters between security forces and the militants have come down drastically. According to the data, only three encounters were reported during the period.

Suhas Munshi | News18.com

Updated:June 14, 2018, 3:01 PM IST
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New Delhi: After completing his two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to review the security situation, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Centre will soon take a call on whether to extend the Ramzan “ceasefire” or not.

Since the beginning of this ceasefire, armed forces have stopped active operations and are not taking any action on inputs regarding militants. Most of the action has been limited to the border areas where infiltrators trying to sneak into the Valley have been neutralised affectively.

Now as Ramzan draws to a close, will the relative calm in the Valley continue?

So what is “Ramzan Ceasefire”?

First of all, the current spell of peace initiated by the Centre in Kashmir is technically not a “ceasefire”. Officials describe it as “suspension of operations”. It only means that security forces will not conduct Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) or Cordon and Destroy Operations (CADO) unless they have pin-point intelligence. They will otherwise refrain from any situation of confrontation with the public at large.

This has worked till now because, apart from incidents at the border, the situation in the hinterland has been largely peaceful. Except two deaths, of a civilian and a security force personnel, fatalities have also been remarkably low during this period.

Is there a precedent?

Yes. In 2000, the then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee announced a “Non Initiation of Combat Operations”. The ceasefire was first announced on November 28 and was extended three times till May 30, 2001. A total of 800 people, including civilians, security personnel and militants, died in various encounters during this period.

Why the ceasefire now?

An unending cycle of violence has unfolded in Kashmir since July 2016 when Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter. A muscular approach by the government, whose primary objective in Kashmir seemed to be crushing militancy and separatism, resulted in over 400 fatalities in hundreds of encounters all over Kashmir.

Some have argued that despite these losses, which include hundreds of civilians and security force personnel, the situation in Kashmir still hasn’t improved.

At this juncture it seems only logical to change strategy and make a much bolder move by unilaterally declaring ‘suspension of operations’ or ‘Ramzan Ceasefire’ in the Valley repeating the same formula that the then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee introduced at the peak of Indo-Pak tensions in 2000.

What have we gained from it?

Not one big encounter has been reported in the hinterland since May 17 when “suspension of operations” was announced, though security forces have fought several pitched battles on the border, where amid intense shelling, Pakistan seems to be trying to push militants into the Valley.

Most of the indicators of violence – grenade lobbing, stone pelting, encounters etc – have seen a remarkable dip since the May 17 announcement.

In an interview to News18, the deputy CM of the state, Kavinder Gupta, said that going by the events unfolding in the Valley, even terror groups seem to be upholding the “Ramzan Ceasefire”.

It is important that this momentum continues, because post Eid, all the attention of forces and the state would shift towards Amarnath Yatra, whose peaceful conduct would be an important test of the ceasefire were it to be extended.

What does the data show?

According to the latest data compiled by the Centre, as many as 23 youths have been recruited by militant groups since the beginning of the ceasefire.

During the ceasefire, the encounters between security forces and the militants have come down drastically. According to the data, only three encounters were reported during the period.

The data also show that 18 grenade-lobbying incidents were reported in the period.

What next?

Both Central government and the Hurriyat agree that the next logical step has to be talks with each other. Senior BJP leaders, including its general secretary Ram Madhav, have said that the Separatists are not beyond the purview of talks “in principle”. But Hurriyat thinks that New Delhi is “confused” over what it actually wants through the talks.

In a statement announced recently, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference said: “While Mr Rajnath says there should be dialogue with both Kashmir and Pakistan, but Both “Kashmir and Kashmiri is ours”. Ms Swaraj puts a rider and says no talks with Pakistan unless “terror is stopped”. Then Mr Amit Shah gives a spin to the ceasefire that it’s not for militants but people, while state DG had issued a statement that it’s for militants to come back home…All this ambiguity leaves little room to consider the talk about talks seriously with a purpose or warrant a response.”

There seems to be a hardening of positions on both sides, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh saying that government appointed interlocutor, former IB chief, Dineshwar Sharma, had not been sent 11 times to Kashmir “on a picnic” implying that as we approach Eid, it is time to capitalise on the present spell of peace. And that Hurriyat must leave out preconditions like India should also get Pakistan on board, and begin a dialogue process.

However, all speculations on the subject will be put to end during the coming week during which government of India and the Hurriyat have to decide on whether to talk and extend ceasefire or not.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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