Under shadow of terror, J&K braces for Amarnath yatra

by Azhar Qadri

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday announced that the suspension of counter-insurgency operation in Jammu and Kashmir would not be extended. He said the ceasefire had succeeded to last its designated period but failed to fulfil the expectations.

In a statement, he said, “It was expected that everyone will cooperate in ensuring the success of this initiative. While the security forces have displayed exemplary restraint during this period, terrorists have continued to attack on civilians and security forces, resulting in deaths and injuries.”

Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister and leader of National Conference, described the announcement to end ceasefire as the “failure of everyone who wanted to give peace a chance”.

The indications that ceasefire might not be extended had already appeared as NSA Ajit Doval had said that “it’s purpose is served”. “We wanted to give respite to the common man in the Valley during Ramzan, so that they could observe the holy month peacefully and we stuck to our stance,” he had said in an interview to a news channel.

The Union Home Minister’s announcement to end the unilateral ceasefire that had continued throughout Ramzan comes at a time when militants carried out some high-profile attacks, including the abduction and killing of a soldier, which mounted pressure on the Union Government to not extend the ceasefire.

The abduction and killing of Rifleman Aurangzeb, who was posted in south Kashmir, on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr also coincided with the assassination of the editor of a local daily outside his office in the heart of Srinagar.

During the unilateral ceasefire from May 16 till Sunday, the violence during recent months continued even though much of it was concentrated in the frontier districts of north Kashmir.

South Kashmir, the epicentre of new-age militancy and the ground zero of deadly confrontations between security forces and civilians attempting to save militants, witnessed calm and effective cessation of counter-insurgency operations, though attacks by militant continued at an unabated pace.

The 39 people killed during the month of Ramadan included 24 militants – all of whom were killed in north Kashmir’s frontier Kupwara and Bandipora districts, which are key infiltration routes. The Army had identified 22 of the 24 militants killed in Kupwara district as infiltrators, suggesting there was a rise in attempts by militants to sneak into the Kashmir valley. Nine security forces personnel were also killed, including five policemen and four soldiers.

The civilian casualties which had registered a sharp spike in recent months, however, witnessed a slowdown even as six were killed during the ceasefire, including three by suspected militants. PDP minister Naeem Akhtar said the ceasefire by the Central government was reciprocated with provocative attacks. “Important measures that could have set (the) stage for purposeful dialogue were not reciprocated, except with provocative attacks,” he said. “It was a way out of bloodshed, destruction but for that, everyone had to be on board,” he said.

Valley killings: 39
Militants killed: 24
Soldiers killed: 4
Policemen killed: 5
Civilians killed: 6
Grenade attacks: 18
Militant-initiated actions: 61

Along the Border 

May 18: Pak intensifies shelling before PM's visit to state. BSF jawan killed in Arnia sector, four civilians killed in RS Pura sector and two in Arnia sector.

May 20: Pak fires at Narayanpur BOP in Ramgarh. Boy killed in firing at LoC in Akhnoor.

May 22: Cross-LoC shelling intensifies, five killed in Hiranagar and Arnia sectors.

May 29: Army's Director-General of Military Operations Lt General Anil Chauhan and his Pak counterpart decide to "fully implement" the 2003 ceasefire.

June 3: Pak troops target Pargwal and Kanachak sectors in Jammu. Two jawans killed, 15 civilians hurt.

June 4: In retaliation, BSF carries out nine major strikes on the international border in Akhnoor sector, claiming to kill five Pak Rangers.

June 12: Pak Rangers target Chamliyal BOP at Ramgarh sector; 4 BSF soldiers killed.