New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Narendra Modi-led Indian government has announced a unilateral ceasefire against militants in Kashmir for the month of Ramzan, a holy month for Muslims.
"The Centre asks Security Forces not to launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan. The decision has been taken to help the peace-loving Muslims observe Ramzan [Ramadan] in a peaceful environment," India's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.
The security forces, however, reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or to protect the lives of innocent people, the ministry said.
#BREAKING: Top Security sources in Jammu & Kashmir tell me: ‘If Ramzan Ceasefire call is not reciprocated by the other side, it would be a disaster. It will give sense of victory to militants (terrorists).’ Forces in J&K clearly upset with the political unilateral ceasefire call.— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) May 16, 2018
Rajnath Singh, India's minister of home affairs, has informed Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the union government's decision. However, the ministry has stressed the need for weeding out extremist elements from the state.
"It is important to isolate the forces that bring a bad name to Islam by resorting to mindless violence and terror," the ministry said.
The Indian Army chief had last week said that he was "ready to suspend" military operations to avoid civilian casualties provided the state guaranteed that security personnel would not be harmed during the period.
"But who will guarantee that there won't be fire at our men, at our vehicles? Who will guarantee that policemen, political workers, our men returning home on leave aren't attacked, aren't killed? Our men who were unarmed, who had returned home on leave were killed … [consider the case of] Lt Umar Fayaz. We killed his killers, but we had to sacrifice four of our men to do so. Policemen are regularly attacked. Political workers are killed. Once a stone is thrown at us … once they fire at us … then there is no way we will not respond and respond sternly. Those who want to fight us, we will fight them," General Rawat told the Indian Express in an interview on May 9.
Kashmir has been witnessing massive protests since July 2016 following the killing of a local militant, Burhan Wani, by security forces. Intelligence inputs suggest that there is rapid radicalization of the local youth ongoing in the four districts of Jammu and Kashmir following the death of Burhan Wani. More such protests are being anticipated given the unrest among the public following the killing of 13 local terrorists by security forces on April 1 this year. In the last fortnight, at least four terrorist-related incidents have been recorded on a daily basis, mostly in south Kashmir, in comparison to one per day till about a few months back.