Indian Catholic News

No Ramadan ceasefire for Jammu and Kashmir

Last year's truce allowed militants to regroup against govt forces, police official says.

 
Kashmir Muslims participate in funeral prayers for Naseer Ahmed Pandith, a member of Pakistan-based militant organization Jaesh-e-Mohammad, who was killed in an encounter with the Indian army on May 17. (Photo by Umer Asif/ucanews.com)
Srinagar: 

Ramadan 2019 has been deadly in India’s northern state of Jammu and Kashmir compared to last year’s when the government announced a unilateral truce.

The conflict-ridden region has witnessed six major encounters during the first 15 days of this year’s Ramadan, killing 12 Islamist militants, two army personnel and a civilian.

No killing was reported during the last Ramadan season as the government announced a unilateral truce with militants, saying it was done to respect the sacred month in the Muslim-dominated region.

This year the federal government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharaitya Janata Party (BJP), decided against a truce.

This was because of the national elections and the BJP not wanting to be seen as a party supporting Muslims, say separatist leaders such as Syed Ali Geelani.

But a senior police official told ucanews.com that last year’s Ramadan ceasefire created more problems than solutions. He said the truce provided an opportunity for militants to regroup and devise a comprehensive strategy against government forces.

Official figures reveal that there have been 67 violent incidents this year resulting in the deaths of 17 civilians, 61 army personnel and 87 militants.

The Kashmir region bordering Pakistan, which is almost entirely Muslim, has been witnessing tension since February after a suicide bomb attack killed 40 army men in Pulwama in the state’s south. The attack was carried out by Pakistan-based militant outfit Jaesh-e- Mohammad.

The senior police officer blamed the violence on last year’s ceasefire.

“The Pulwama attack and other incidents of violence were due to the break during Ramadan last year and militants got the buffer to channel their assaults in a proper way,” the official said.

Soon after the Pulwama attack, archrivals India and Pakistan bombed each other and fighter jets fought in the skies. Meanwhile, the BJP projected the action against Pakistan as administrative boldness courtesy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi also gave the army a “free hand” to flush out militants from Kashmir and avenge the Pulwama attack. Since then, there has been no let-up in violence in the region.

However, Ghulam Nahi Lone, leader of a regional political party, said the government was wrong in not declaring a truce with militants this Ramadan.

“In view of the sanctity of this month, the federal government should have stopped anti-militancy operations so that people could have prayed in peace,” Lone told ucanews.com.

Muslims worldwide fast from sunrise to sunset and conduct special prayers to observe the month-long Ramadan, commemorating the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

Some 70 percent of 12 million people in Jammu and Kashmir are Muslim.

The Kashmir conflict dates back to 1947 when India and Pakistan become separate states after British India was divided. Both countries claim Kashmir in full and have fought at least three wars and countless skirmishes over it.

India often accuses Pakistan of supporting a secessionist movement in the region, an allegation Pakistan has consistently denied. At least 100,000 people have died in the past three decades due to the conflict.

Source: UCAN

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