The Centre on Wednesday unilaterally announced that security forces will halt counter-insurgency operations in the Kashmir valley during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan. This is the first such step in the insurgency-torn state for more than 17 years. The NDA government under the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had similarly announced ceaseifre with militants in 2000 during Ramzan. That step had opened doors for peace moves at that time, but they could not fructify due to various other reasons. The people of valley still remember those peaceful days.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that the decision to halt operations was taken "to help the peace loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment", but he has cautioned that the security forces would retaliate, if attacked.
Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has been appealing to the Centre since a long time to apply the healing touch, and on Wednesday, she was the first among politicians to welcome the Centre's move. National Conference leader Dr Farooq Abdullah has also welcomed this step and has expressed hope that Pakistan will reciprocate.
Let us hope that good sense will prevail on the minds of separatists and an atmosphere of peace will return for at least a month. Enough blood has been shed, and it is time to give peace a chance.
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