It is absolutely clear that no proper homework had been done by the powers-that-be in New Delhi before announcing the unilateral ceasefire
It was a coincidence or whatever one may call it. On May 16, two major developments took place on the eve of Ramzan, one each in China and India. In China, the Government decided to launch “strike hard” campaign in remote Xinjiang province against radical Islamists. As a result, thousands of Communist Party of China (CPC) cadres were tasked with carrying out “home stays” with Muslim Uyghur families. One report said: “Intensified campaign was to be launched in the month of Ramzan”, saying “monitoring of minority Muslim communities had become invasive”. Another report said: “Several thousand Muslims had been detained in re-education camps”.
It is absolutely clear that no proper homework had been done by the powers-that-be in New Delhi before announcing the unilateral ceasefire.
In Delhi, just the opposite happened despite the fact that the radical Islamists had intensified their break-India activities in Kashmir with a view to getting J&K out of India and establishing there Nizam-e-Mustafa, their most cherished goal. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh — at the behest of the then J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti — announced unilateral ceasefire during the month of Ramzan. As a matter of fact, he spoke to Mehbooba Mufti and told her that there will be ceasefire during the month of Ramzan. “The Centre asks security forces not to launch operations in J&K during the holy month of Ramzan. The decision was taken to help the peace-loving Muslims to observe Ramzan in a peaceful manner. The government expects everyone to observe Ramzan peacefully and without any difficulties,” the Home Ministry’s statement in this regard said.
An impression was created that an all-party meet chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on May 9 at Srinagar had unanimously advocated the need for a unilateral ceasefire during the month of Ramzan and annual Amarnath Yatra slated to commence on June 28. Mehbooba Mufti herself led the misinformation campaign from the front. No such thing had happened during the meeting. The ceasefire was not discussed at all. The main opposition National Conference and the PDP’s own ally, the BJP, called the Chief Minister’s bluff, saying the matter of ceasefire was not discussed at all. The BJP even went to the extent of holding an emergency press conference in Jammu to distance itself from what the Chief Minister had claimed.
Earlier on May 9, the Army Chief General Bipin Rawat and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had overruled the possibility of any ceasefire, saying operations against terrorists and anti-state forces will continue. The point is that the Chief Minister laid a trap and the Union Home Minister walked into it, of course, with the approval of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was only natural that the nation as a whole and the people of Jammu province and the security forces, in particular, felt dumb-founded.
What China and India did on the eve of Ramzan should clinch the whole issue and establish that the approach of both the nations towards the menace and cult of terror and anti-state forces was contradictory. China used the month of Ramzan to take care of those threatening national security and New Delhi tied very tightly the hands of our security forces involved in the anti-insurgency operation in the state in general and terrorist-infested Kashmir Valley in particular.
Obviously, New Delhi overlooked the concerns as expressed by the security forces, intelligence agencies, the BJP and strategic affairs experts, including former Army Generals. The security agencies had warned that the unilateral ceasefire would only help terrorists regroup themselves; move and launch terror attacks more freely; induce, motivate or convince young Muslims in Kashmir to join them; and undo the splendid work done by the Army and para-military forces surmounting all odds, including threat to their life and limbs.
As was expected, the unilateral ceasefire or the suspension of operations against terrorists boomeranged. Terrorists and anti-state elements made full use of the opportunity and intensified their break-India activities. In other words, the government’s decision of a unilateral ceasefire in J&K was met with increased violence. The month-long (May 17-June 17) ceasefire saw a record 20 grenade attacks, 50 terrorist strikes and a total of 41 deaths. Terrorists martyred 17 and killed 17 unarmed innocent civilians. Last year too, the Ramzan period had witnessed 43 deaths, while 32 deaths were recorded in 2016.
It is absolutely clear that no proper homework had been done by the powers-that-be in New Delhi before announcing the unilateral ceasefire. It’s no wonder then that terror outfits and their mentors in Pakistan made optimum use of the opportunity offered by the Union Government and strike at will at security forces and civilians.
The BJP withdrew its support to the Mehbooba Mufti Government, which led to her fall and collapse of a 40-month-old unholy alliance
Notwithstanding the spurt in terror-related activities and murder of separatist-friendly journalist Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar and rifleman of 44 Rashtriya Rifles Aurangzeb in Kashmir’s Shopian on June 14, the Chief Minister continued to pitch for the extension of ceasefire for at least two more months. There were reports that some “powerful” elements in the Home Ministry were in favour of the idea of an extension of ceasefire beyond the month of Ramzan.
However, the murder of Bukhari and kidnapping and the martyrdom of Aurangzeb had changed the country’s whole scenario. Almost everyone outside the Union Home Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office condemned the Union Government’s soft approach towards the radical Islamists and demanded the withdrawal of ceasefire, saying the announcement of the ceasefire during the month of Ramzan was a “strategic blunder”.
But Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was known for her friendly attitude towards Pakistan, separatists and terrorists, held her ground firmly and tried her best to persuade Home Minister Rajnath Singh to extend the period of ceasefire by two more months. She repeatedly claimed that the “suspension of operations elsewhere in the state had given the people a sigh of relief and expressed hope that the same be extended to the borders”. And she made this ridiculous statement on the day the Pakistani butchers killed four BSF personnel in the Jammu’s Samba.
This time her motivated pleas didn’t click. The Prime Minister, the National Security Advisor and others acted differently. They went by the inputs given by the security agencies and decided not to extend ceasefire beyond Eid on June 16. A decision to this effect was announced on June 17 morning by Home Minister Rajnath Singh through a series of tweets.
Convinced that angry Mehbooba Mufti could dump the BJP, the BJP high command acted very smartly. BJP national president Amit Shah called a meeting of all J&K BJP ministers and party leaders at New Delhi on June 19 in which he announced that the continuation of the BJP in the Mufti-led coalition government was not in the national and the party’s interest. The BJP withdrew its support to the Mehbooba Mufti Government, which led to her fall and collapse of a 40-month-old unholy alliance. The nation heaved a sigh of relief and the security forces resumed their anti-terrorist operations.
One can only hope and pray that New Delhi learn lessons from the past mistakes and not do anything which hampers security operations and help anti-state forces consolidate themselves
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.