Suspense continues over ceasefire extension

New Delhi, June 14 Suspense continued over whether the Centre's unilateral Ramadan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir will be extended beyond Eid, which falls this weekend.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday held a high-level meeting over security arrangements for the upcoming Amarnath Yatra to begin later this month and it was officially stated there was no discussion on the fate of ceasefire extension in Jammu and Kashmir in the meeting.

The meeting that lasted about 45 minutes was held at Rajnath Singh's residence at which National Security Advisor Ajit Doval; Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba; the Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat; Director Intelligence Bureau Rajiv Jain, Director Geneneral of Police Jammu and Kashmir S.P. Vaid, Director General of Border Security Force K.K. Sharma and Central Reserve Police Force Chief R.R. Bhatnagar were present along with senior Home Ministry officials. 

"Today's meeting was held to discuss security arrangements for Amarnath Yatra which is to start later this month. The issue of extension or suspension of operation in Jammu and Kashmir was not discussed," Home Ministry Spokesperson A. Bharat Bhushan Babu said. 

Sources in the Home Ministry, on the condition of anonymity, said indications are that the ceasefire may automatically end after the Eid and there may be no official announcement on the end of the initiative.

The Union Home Ministry had on May 16 announced for unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during Ramadan, saying this was necessary to help "peace loving Muslims" observe the holy month in a peaceful environment.

"If the Central government decides on extension of the ceasefire, the announcement regarding that would be done on June 16 or 17," said the official, adding the decision on the suspension or operations against the militants can be taken after a review of its impact in the Kashmir Valley. 

While the Jammu and Kashmir government wants the continuation of the Ramadan ceasefire beyond the Eid, top sources suggest the field commanders of the Army have argued that the cessation of hostilities from only one side is helping the militants to regroup and increase their numbers through recruitment of local boys.

Just after the high-level meeting with Rajnath Singh, another round of meeting was chaired by Gauba at his North Block office here to discuss the security aspects to be taken for the safety of the pilgrims taking part in the Amarnath Yatra, beginning on June 28. 

 (IANS)