In Kashmir, doubts on how Ramzan ceasefire pans out

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Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar | Updated: May 18, 2018 3:30:37 am

At a market in Shopian district on Thursday. (Photo: Shuaib Masoodi)

While the Centre has directed security forces “not to launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir” during the holy month of Ramzan and retaliate “only if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people”, security officials on the ground are still waiting for clarity on how the ceasefire would work.

The officials say that while the cordon and search operations to trace militants would stop and the forces would “not initiate any combat operation”, there is need for clarity on whether they would carry out “sanitization” and patrolling.

“That language is yet to come out,” a top police officer in Valley told The Indian Express. “It is non-initiation of combat which essentially means that you create an environment where you don’t make any pro-active operations. But at the same time it doesn’t discount retaliation if you are fired upon or there is an attack on a garrison or camp.”

J-K’s Director General of Police S P Vaid too confirmed that anti-militancy operations would stop for the time- being, but added that the forces would retaliate if they have a face-off with the militants.

Read | Ramzan ceasefire: Order a cruel joke, say separatists

“The cordon and search operations will stop. Obviously, it is the government order,” he told The Indian Express. “But the domination and patrolling (by forces) would continue. If there is a face-off, we will defend ourselves”.

The officials say that while the security forces would “sanitise” the area surrounding their camps, they would not enter civilian areas for patrolling. “Though everything is not clear yet, it seems the forces, generally, would not enter the populated areas for domination or patrolling,” said a senior police officer. “During area domination or patrolling in civilian areas, there are chances of a face-off. In such cases, everything depends on the reflexes and in military mind the first reflex is to open fire. It can jeopardise the ceasefire”.

The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) has rejected the non-initiation of combat operation as a drama, while Hizbul Mujahideen is yet to comment on it.

“It is always a difficult proposition to go for a ceasefire with non-state actors,” said a police officer. “Lashkar in any case has denounced it. JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad) has not yet said anything and we have to keep waiting. But surprisingly HM (Hizbul Mujahideen) too has not said anything yet. They are silent”.

Security officials hope that the initiative will stop the “bloodshed”. “It (ceasefire) is a good initiative for the time being because the state is showing that they are responsible and they don’t want bloodshed. So maybe this will open a new path for the people who want to come back,” said a police officer.

Two injured in Pak firing

Jammu: A Border Security Force constable was among two people injured Thursday in unprovoked firing by Pakistani Rangers in civilian areas along the border in Samba and Hiranagar sectors. Identifying the injured BSF constable as P K Mishra and the civilian as Daulat Ram, sources said that firing started around 2.15 am in Bobbiyan.—ENS

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