A day before the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan New Delhi took everyone on surprise declaring NICO in Kashmir valley where the militancy is highest ever in last one decade. The Non-Initiation Combat Operations (NICO) was declared by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on his social media website Twitter and said that it aims to offer the space for the peace-loving Muslims in the valley to observe the holy month peacefully.
As the news travelled and reached the valley, the alliance partner of BJP in Jammu and Kashmir- Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) welcomed the decision. The news initially, however, was misunderstood by most of the people and political figures who termed it as ceasefire declared by New Delhi.
Even Chief Minister in her welcome statement repeatedly used the word ceasefire which in the later hours was cleared by the experts and security officials who said that only Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) would be on halt.
“Under the NICO only the CASO and Counter-Insurgency operations would be on halt. But the area domination, anti-infiltration, Patrolling, area domination and the operations on intelligence and technology-based inputs will be launched continuously,” says retd. general Ata Hasnain.
Hasnain has formerly headed the key strategic 15 Corps based at Badamibagh Srinagar and claims to have handled the same kind of situation when in 2000 Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared the NICO in Kashmir. “It is not different then what was earlier in the year of 2000 declared by Vajpayee”.
Meanwhile, back in the valley the main political parties welcomed the decision and termed it as the fallout of All Party Meet. During the All Party Meet chaired by Chief Minister Mehboob Mufti all political parties unanimously passed the resolution to seek an end to the ongoing bloodshed in the valley and urged New Delhi to declare a ceasefire in the valley ahead of Ramazan and the upcoming Amarnath Yatra- an annual Hindu pilgrimage.
However, the BJP, key ally to PDP in Jammu and Kashmir was the only political party that opposed the All Party move and only to leave red-faced after centre’s approval to the conditional cessation of Operations in the valley. BJP maintained that it will demoralize the army which is achieving major success in combat operations.
The party is, however; known for its hard stand on Kashmir militancy and separatists though so far it didn’t achieve any positive results, however, worsened the situation. In last 30 months during the PDP-BJP government, as many as 300 militants have been killed but that didn’t see an end to the militancy.
The senior NC leader and former Minister of Home Affairs Nasir Aslam Wani welcomed the move and said that this shall be the beginning for the sustainable dialogue with all stakeholders.
“If the bloodshed continues after the culmination of Holy Month Ramzan, there is no use of this NICO. New Delhi needs to move beyond and initiate a sustainable dialogue process with all the stake-holders including Pakistan and separatists,” he told The Legitimate.
“Except BJP we all supported this initiative in All Party Meet. But it didn’t happen the first time and Vajpayee also announced when he was the Prime minister and was very successful move at that time which followed the political outreach,” he said.
Wani said that Modi shall also now look for the ways politically to resolve this issue and assured all possible support of his party to the government where they can see the peace will return and the killings would stop.
The Chief Spokesperson of ruling PDP Mohammad Rafi Mir also welcomed the decision and said that PDP is always craving for options and ways where the dialogue would be initiated to end this bloodshed.
“With this decision, the level of violence will decline and people will heave a sigh of relief in this holy month. The life, the economy was adversely affected by the growing graph of violence and killings in last few years,” he said.
Mir, however, demands it as a permanent feature and stressed for a sustainable and comprehensive dialogue among all the stakeholders including Pakistan and the Separatists in Kashmir.
“Time has come when the bloodshed shall end and the issue shall be politically addressed. For over three decades one lakh lives were consumed but nothing was achieved and our stand is clear that it needs to be resolved politically.”
While the mainstream political parties welcoming the decision, on the same day the New Delhi’s move was first rejected by the Pakistan based Lashker-E-Toiba. The militant outfit is active in Kashmir but has very less local recruit’s though it operates under the umbrella of UJC headed by Hizb supremo Syed Salahuddin.
“We deem it as sin and disgrace to the sacrifices put up in the freedom struggle. We are the heirs of the martyrs. Opting for such choice is treachery to the blood of martyrs,” a spokesperson of LeT Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi issued a statement to local news gathering agency in the evening.
He further said: “It may be a wish of India and it’s few sympathizers and nothing else. Bipin Rawat is of the opinion that he may threaten Kashmiris by imposing atrocities on unarmed students. It has neither happened before nor will it happen now. We were active in the resistance before and we will be so in future.”
The separatists, however, took one day to reject the New Delhi’s move including the indigenous Hizbul Mujahidin outfit.
The three main leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq termed it as a cruel joke and said that after Ramzan India will continue on a killing spree in Kashmir.
“It is operation halt and we want a permanent halt to a war thrust on freedom-loving Kashmiri people”.
Nevertheless, the political and security experts have been dwelling deep into the slew of New Delhi towards Kashmir. When the Modi led BJP formed the government in New Delhi, it had a tough stance towards the separatists in Kashmir.
It didn’t only launch a massive Operation All Out against militants; most of the separatists are behind bars after launching raids by NIA accusing them of funding militants and fomenting trouble in the valley. The movement of three senior separatist leaders has been severely curtailed squeezing their space in the public domain.
The question crops why to halt the operations against militants when security forces on hinterland have achieved remarkable success killing nearly 300 militants.
Experts term the Kashmir situation very complex and say that every dead militant gives birth to a fresh recruit. “The attrition is not the answer all time to the problem in Kashmir. Security forces have done their job significantly and are in complete domination. However, the political outreach is missing,” says Hasnain to Newswire.
“The situation is more complex when you kill 200 militants and the same number is born. How can you address it militarily? It needs a political arrangement while the military measures only pave the way for political approach.”
He blames both the Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi government for the political failure in Kashmir and says that killing of the last militant in the valley by attrition is next to impossible until the issue is addressed politically.
Meanwhile, if the sources are believed the New Delhi is mulling to extend the cessation of operations in the valley after Ramzan in case there is no significant provocation by militants and Pakistan before it takes some political measures.
“The New Delhi is mulling to some more political measures after extending the cessation of operations in the valley. However, it will depend on the response by the separatists and militants besides Pakistan, if they cooperate.”
Sources said the All Party Meet was a planned move by New Delhi to take this initiative of NICO after witnessing the large scale of violence and bloodshed in the valley.