National

MHA goes from operation ‘All Out’ to ‘Reach Out’ in Kashmir

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday will review the ongoing suspension of operations (SOO) in Jammu and Kashmir. He is likely to announce a decision on the extension beyond Eid.

High level sources have told India Today that Centre has been keen to announce an extension of internal ceasefire, which it feels is a people friendly measure.

However, many top officials in the forces have given a mixed response. A few officers feel that “militant activity has gone unabated, unleashing several grenade attacks and further damaging could be a massive recruitment drive by terrorist which may become counter-productive to forces on the ground.”

However, there have been a fewer incidents of stone pelting especially in south Kashmir on account of lesser operations. For the Centre which announced the Ramadan ceasefire on May 16 has shifted gears from “Operation All Out” in 2017 to “Operation Reach Out” with an agenda with inclusive policies and sporting activities.

Leaving aside its four year stance, the BJP ruled government has suddenly opened its doors for talks with the Hurriyat which seems to be playing hardball. Sources have told India Today that backchannel negotiations are on for a possible breakthrough with separatist.

A press conference by the home minister has also been scheduled raising hopes that “big announcement” vis-a-vis Kashmir will be made. Rajnath remained tight-lipped when asked about extension. He smiled to media during a BSF function saying “any announcement on Kashmir, will be made in Kashmir.”

Sources say the main concern is also youth – a section of them indulging in stone pelting. The other concern is continuous local recruitment which is once again swelling the militant ranks. While the home minister is likely to attend an Iftar to be hosted by CM Mehbooba Mufti, he would review the prevailing situation in the state, particularly in border areas and the restive Valley. He will be given a factual report of Kashmir which has witnessed several incidents of violence post the announcement of SOO.

Singh would hold meetings with Governor NN Vohra, CM, bureaucrats, police and paramilitary officials. The home minister will also review the situation along the Indo-Pak border, where cross-border firing led to death of at least 20 people followed by evacuation of several villagers.

PM Narendra Modi had visited all the three regions of the state Ladakh, Srinagar and Jammu in a day’s span last month. He emphasised on reachinmg out to the youth.

While Centre has shed its previous hardline approach, it remains to be seen whether the new strategy will pay dividends.

By: India Today

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