June 2018 News

Jammu And Kashmir Likely To Seek Truce Extension

6 June 2018
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: Buoyed by the security agencies' assessment of the 'Ramzan ceasefire or cease-ops', the Jammu & Kashmir government is likely to push for a two-month extension of the Centre's soft pursuit in the State during Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's visit on Thursday. 'The Ramzan ceasefire has brought a visible change in the lives of the people. It has also brought an attitudinal change among the masses. This needs to be built on, and the momentum to pursue the efforts towards a political dialogue should continue,' Peoples Democratic Party leader and J&K Public Works Minister Naeem Akhtar told The Hindu. Mr. Singh is scheduled to meet all security agencies operating in J&K and seek their inputs on the 'cease-ops' impact on the ground before taking a final call on its extension. The Centre had announced the halting of operations on May 16 in view of Ramzan. PDP sources said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is likely to push for an extension of the ceasefire 'so that the longish period allows more space to all stakeholders to rework their strategies and come up with a better response.' The separatists have so far decided to stay away from the talks and 'asked the Centre to spell out its intention first on the process and insisted on including Pakistan in the dialogue.' On pushing certain confidence-building measures ahead of the talks, Mr. Akhtar, also the government spokesman, said, 'The dialogue process is an evolutionary one. CBMs could be considered once it starts.' The ceasefire extension could also facilitate the Amarnath yatra, starting from June 28. The PDP stand on ceasefire is buttressed by the security agencies' evaluation of the J&K situation in the wake of the decision to halt cordon-and-search operations during Ramzan. The first three weeks of the Ramzan ceasefire witnessed just three casualties, which include two civilians and one Army jawan, reflecting a 90% dip for the corresponding period in March and April. However, seven 'infiltrators' were killed close to the frontier district of Kupwara. Meanwhile, the Home Minister will also visit the frontier district of Kupwara. Later, he will attend the iftar party hosted by the Chief Minister in Srinagar.