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Security Forces Likely to Seek Extension of 'Ramzan Ceasefire' as Rajnath Singh Embarks on Valley Visit

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who will visit the Valley on Thursday, is likely to be asked by state government and security officials to extend the suspension of operations well after Eid.

Updated:June 7, 2018, 1:42 PM IST
New Delhi: A gun fight between militants who attacked the Army’s Hajin camp in north Kashmir and security forces earlier this week threatened to undo the 20-day-old suspension of operations, better known as ‘Ramzan Ceasefire’, announced by the Home Ministry last month.

The attack was carried out at 8:30 pm on 13 Rashtriya Rifles camp in Hajin. The Army described the incident as a “standoff attack by militants”. The militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba, which claimed responsibility for the attack, reportedly used grenades and fired from their automatic weapons at the camp.

This was the second such attack since May 17 when the suspension of operations or ‘Ramzan Ceasefire’ was announced. The first attack happened on May 28 when militants targeted an Army camp at Kakapora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

According to the report accessed by CNN-News18, one civilian and a security force personnel have been killed in the last 20 days. Around 10 militants trying to infiltrate into the Valley were killed in various encounters near the Line of Control (LoC). Security personnel so far claimed the “ceasefire” to be a big success. That’s because of the remarkably low number of casualties in the hinterland during the period.

The report said that the peace initiative is in no way hampering the steps being taken against terrorists. "Sixty-eight terrorists were killed in 2018. Compared to previous years, this is a high number," it stated.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to be apprised of the fact that in the past few months, most top terror commanders have been eliminated, including Mufti Waqas, Touseef Sheikh, Sameer Tiger and Saddam Padar. Only some are left now like Reyaz Naikoo, Zeenat-ul-islam and Zakir Moosa.

Singh, who will visit the Valley on Thursday, is also likely to be asked by state government and security officials to extend the suspension of operations well after Eid. Sources have told CNN-News18 that J&K DGP S P Vaid will make a presentation to the Home Minister, detailing the success of the current peace initiative.

On the law and order front too, the security brass is likely to argue in favour of the Ramzan initiative. "From around 900 incidents that were reported in the first six months in 2017, only 410 such incidents have been reported so far, and just 20 took place since Ramzan COO," the report said, adding that the elimination of terrorists at the Line of Control continues. "Ten have been killed since cessation of operation was announced, including three in Keran on Wednesday, it said.

The drop in number of incidents has happened across various categories - weapon snatching, grenade lobbing, bank loots, IED blasts, and stone pelting.

Officials argue that fewer attacks from terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen have happened since COO.

The incidents of grenade lobbing and weapon snatching have gone up in second and third weeks of Ramzan, but officials claim, "This is the only sign of growing frustration among terror groups because the common Kashmiri is appreciating government's peace initiative."

One of the sources in state police department said that while they are receiving intelligence inputs of a possible fidayeen attack on a daily basis, a greater vigilance by the forces has so far deterred the terror groups from carrying out such attacks.

Senior officials of the security agencies deployed in Kashmir are already hailing the ‘Ramzan Ceasefire’ as a big success when compared to the ceasefire announced last time —in 2000 when then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced a Non Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO) over a five-month period during which 800 people had died.

Singh is scheduled to preside over a high-level security meeting during his visit to Srinagar on Thursday. On getting favourable response from the agencies, which is almost certain now, the Home Minister is likely to announce an extension in ‘Ramzan Ceasefire’ on his return to the capital.

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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