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To extend ceasefire or not: New Delhi likely to decide today.

With just a day or two left for the unilateral cessation of anti-militancy military operations in Kashmir, New Delhi is likely to decide on Thursday whether to extend it beyond Ramadhan or not.

In this connection, official sources say a high level meeting is likely to be chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi which will be attended by chief secretary B B Vyas and the police chief Shesh Paul Vaid.

The meeting is a follow up to a security review made by Singh during his two-day visit to the state on June 7, his first after the unilateral ‘ceasefire’ was announced by him over twitter just before the fasting month began on May 16.

The state’s security officials had told Singh they were satisfied over the gains made in Kashmir after the military halted its anti-militancy military operations.

Singh himself too had expressed ‘satisfaction over improvement’ in the Kashmir situation since the halt.

After the review meeting, Singh is likely to make an announcement on Thursday itself if the ‘ceasefire’ is extended for the duration of Amarnath pilgrimage due to start June 28 and end by the middle of August.

Police chief Vaid said the ‘ceasefire’ has been a success from law and order point of view.

“On militancy front, they didn’t allow it to be a complete success. We lost two boys in the recent attack on guard post in Pulwama,” Vaid said.

The state government is in favour of extending the ‘ceasefire’, and Indian army chief Bipin Rawat too gave an indication to the same effect recently saying in an interview, “let’s give peace a chance”.

Top government forces officials claim the people have appreciated a halt in anti-militancy operations.

Militant groups had rejected the ‘ceasefire’ some calling it a “joke”.

“During 28 days of Ramzan, we didn’t initiate any action against militants except those at the LoC,’ a senior security official told.

‘On the contrary, militants continued to attack the security forces and carried out a series of grenade attacks.”

The official said if the ceasefire is  extended till the end of Amarnath pilgrimage it could allow security forces ‘to act against militants who are roaming freely and also prevent the snatching of weapons by opening fire.”

“But this all is subject to a debate. The final call will be taken by the Union Home Minister tomorrow (Thursday),” the officer said.

During Ramadhan so far, 18 militants were killed along the LoC, while the militants killed two policemen in southern Kashmir.

One civilian was also killed in the government force’s firing and 56 people including 17 government forces men sustained injuries in 12 grenade attacks by militants who also succeed in snatching weapons from police personnel on seven occasions during the fasting month.

Sources among pro-India civil society groups and mainstream political parties say Union Home Ministry has been constantly taking feedback from them.

“We are for a continuation of the ceasefire as it brought relief to people,” said a mainstream politician speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti wants the anti-militancy operations should remain suspended believing it would pave the way for drawing in separatists for a dialogue with New Delhi.

 

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