Rajnath to chair crucial security review meeting on Kashmir

rajnath-mehbooba-pti Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti | PTI

Home Minister Rajnath Singh will chair an important security review meeting on Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday. He will take a call on whether to continue with the suspension of operations against militants in the state beyond Ramzan, which ends on June 15.

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police S.P. Vaid and Chief Secretary B.B. Vyas will attend the meeting.

Vaid told THE WEEK the halt in operations brought relief to the people and killings have stopped. "It is good to be hopeful," he said about the scheduled meeting.

Top security officials in Jammu and Kashmir have declared the halt in operations against militants a success, as only one civilian was killed in the first 28 days of Ramzan.

Singh was given a PowerPoint presentation by security officials about the success of the move by Centre when he visited the state for two days on June 7. Singh later told reporters that a security review before Eid will decide whether the suspension of operations should be extended to encompass the 40-day Amarnath Yatra that begins on June 28. Sources said the home ministry will issue a statement about the decision taken by the security meeting on Thursday.

The suspension of operations against militants was hugely appreciated by the civilians as it eased hardships and improved the business climate in Kashmir.

Some militant groups like Jaish-e-Muhammad and Al Badr, however, continued with the attacks on security forces. The Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest militant group in Kashmir, has not launched any attack during Ramzan.

In Ramzan, 18 militants have been killed along the line of control while two policemen were killed in Pulwama in south Kashmir. A civilian was also killed in security force firing, while 56 others were injured in 12 grenade attacks by militants.

The home ministry has also received positive feedback from politicians and civil society members.

''We are for extending the ceasefire,'' said a PDP leader. "It has brought relief to people and reduced tensions.'' Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti wants the Centre to continue with the gesture in Ramzan to create an atmosphere conducive for talks with separatists. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat has also supported the idea of talks on Kashmir. “Let us give peace and talks a chance,” Rawat said in an interview.