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May 24, 2018
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Valley welcomes breather, awaits militants’ responseUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s tweet announcing that the Centre had asked security forces “not to launch operations” in Jammu and Kashmir during Ramzan surprised everyone in Kashmir.It was the most unexpected announcement for almost everyone in the region who had presumed that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appeal for a unilateral ceasefire was a political gimmick.The defining reaction across the region was that of shock and surprise coupled with some uncertainty and many were left guessing how the other side — militants —would react.“Let it sink in first,” said a 24-year-old youth from Srinagar’s old city who was surprised by the announcement.The announcement of the suspension of counter-insurgency operation has come at a time when the region was on the edge after back-to-back incidents of deadly violence leading to high casualties of civilians and local militants.Most people in Kashmir, including leaders of political parties, had not expected the BJP-led government in New Delhi to announce such a cessation and upon hearing the announcement were left wondering how the militants would react.“It will have meaning if the other side responds as well,” said Abdul Majid, chartered accountant and member of a local civil society. “Remember ceasefire is not surrender. Moreover, the period should be used to kick-start a dialogue, at least in respect of the internal dimension of the problem,” he said.Zubair Yousuf, a law graduate, described the ceasefire as a “commendable achievement” and hoped it would be “reciprocated positively”.In Shopian district of south Kashmir, which was the focal point of major counter-insurgency operations that led to deaths of several dozen militants and civilians in recent months, a resident described the Home Minister’s announcement as a “breather”.“Shopian needed it so much. We were getting bulldozed,” he said. “What will happen from the other side now is important,” he said.