J&K: Decision to halt operations seems promising, Govt. to review results

Srinagar: Tensions in India’s northern state Jammu and Kashmir has always prevailed for all the very right reasons. The recent unilateral cessation of security operations across the state during the eve of Ramadan, a decision by the Government, seems promising looking at the results.

The government shall carefully review the data collected from the security agencies before deciding before taking the call to extend the cessation of security operations in the state.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Srinagar on Thursday to hold a meeting with CM Mehbooba Mufti, governor NN Vohra and key security officials to discuss the same.

According to the data available with security agencies the stone pelting incidents have drastically come down to 39 in the first 16 days of Ramadan as compared to last year’s figures which had 195 incidents of stone pelting in the Valley.

“We have confirmation of about only five boys from the Valley who joined the ranks of militants in this period of halt on operations,” while at least one boy had made his way to militancy in the month’s of April and early May said Srinagar-based security official.

“This year alone, around 90 young men joined the ranks of militants in the Valley. Among them 43 were from South Kashmir which is hotbed of militancy. Between April 1 and May 31, we understand there were 65 boys who went missing to join the ranks of militants. But the Ramzan halt on operations has brought the number of new recruits significantly down,” said an Anantnag-based based field commander.

According to the statistics, there is a significant drop in violence in the valley this year compared to 2000 during the same unilateral cessation of operations.

Though the results show a significant drop in violence in the valley, the commander agrees that given the cessation of operations, it was indeed frustrating for the security forces not to act on intelligence inputs about the movement of militants.

“Our ‘cordon and search’ operations (CASOs) are off. We used to have four to five CASOs every 24 hours before the operations were halted. We have given huge respite to militants just before the crucial Amarnath Yatra slated to begin from June 28. (Even if) the Ramzan ceasefire is not extended beyond Eid, we will get only 11 days to ensure that militants do not harm Yatra,” the commander says on the condition to stay anonymous.

There are currently around 144 active militants in South Kashmir he adds and “among them 131 are local boys and 13 are foreign terrorists. Among the local boys, the most, 84 are affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen. The militancy is now predominantly local in character.”

Many experts say this predominantly local character of militancy has forced the government to announce a halt on operations.

“Funerals of local militants killed in security operations had become the biggest reason for new recruits joining militancy. We saw fathers of dead militants coming together and raising hands together. Even a mother of the dead militant was handed over an assault rifle and her fingers were put on the trigger to fire. But with halt on operations there are no frequent funerals and no memorial services,” says the key government official who is also a part of the review process.

Looking at the data, the last time a similar unilateral cessation of operations was declared was in 2000 which remained in force for 185 days beginning on November 28 extending three times from December 28 to February 27, had a higher level of violence.

CPI(M) member of the J&K assembly MY Tarigami said looking at how violence has changed day to day life of people in the state and adversely affected Kashmir society ceasefire should be persisted with even if there were risks involved.

“The Ramzan ceasefire has provided some relief to the common man. Despite provocations, this initiative has generated a ray of hope which should not in no way be clouded even if some risk is involved,” says Tarigami.

While Jammu and Kashmir police chief SP Vaid says the recruitment of new militants is still a matter of concern in the state. He said: “We are working with families to bring them back to the mainstream. The overall recruitment of militants is almost the same as that last year. It is too early to say whether the number of new recruitments is down due to halt on operations. We are adhering to a ceasefire but militants are not.”