Shujaat Bukhari, Aurangzeb killings in J&K: Centre under pressure to act against terror groups

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The Centre’s policy of month-long suspension of anti-terror operations in J&K during Ramzan has faced criticism
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NEW DELHI: Amid mounting anger and anguish over the brazen killing of ‘The Rising Kashmir’ editor Shujaat Bukhari and Army rifleman Aurangzeb by Pakistan-backed terror groups, there is growing pressure on the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre to act against terrorists.
With the Congress-led Opposition stepping up its attack over rising terror-related incidents in J&K in the recent months, the NDA regime appears to be cornered at the moment.

If the sources are to be believed, the Centre is also likely to revoke its earlier order for suspension of anti-terror operations during the holy month of Ramzan in the wake of cold-blooded killing of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari and army rifleman Aurangzeb, who was kidnapped from Shopian and later shot dead by suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) linked terrorists to avenge the recent encounters done by the security forces.
Auranzeb’s killing has also thrown a big challenge to the Army and para-military forces, which have eliminated a large number of terrorists linked to Pakistan-backed terror groups including LeT, JeM, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen etc. Importantly, the Jammu and Kashmir Police have called the killing Shujaat Bukhari a ‘terror-related’ incident and constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the brutal murder.

Inputs gathered by the intelligence agencies have suggested that Pakistan’s notorious spy agency ISI is rattled with the killing of several top terrorists who were executing its anti-India agenda in J&K. The killings of Shujaat Bukhari and rifleman Aurangzeb is also being seen as an attempt to dissuade local Kashmiri youths from joining the Army and the para-military forces and disturb the ”atmosphere of peace” build by the government in the recent past.
The suspicion over ISI’s backdoor involvement in the Shujaat Bukhari and rifleman Aurangzeb’s killing also points to the fact that there may be possible attempts from the terrorists to avenge the recent encounters done by Army in J&K.
In view of the unpleasant developments in J&K, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting on Friday to review the security situation in the PDP-ruled state during which the issue of revoking the Ramzan ceasefire was thoroughly discussed.

The high-level meeting was attended by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and senior officials of the intelligence and security agencies, according to PTI. The meeting assumed significance amid growing calls for ending the unilateral suspension of anti-terror operations post-Ramzan, which ends on Saturday, the sources said.
During the meeting, the security of pilgrims going to the annual Amarnath Yatra, starting June 28, was also discussed in the wake of intelligence inputs regarding the threat from terror groups waiting for an opportunity to hit back.

The Centre’s decision to suspend anti-terror operations against terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan was taken as a goodwill gesture but the same was not reciprocated by Pakistan, the separatists and the terror groups.
The Centre has also faced criticism for restricting the Army and the para-military forces from taking any action against Pakistan-backed terror groups even in the wake of rising incidents of cross-border firing, ceasefire violations and terror attacks on security installations in J&K.

The government also appears to be divided over the issue with a few security agencies flagging its disadvantages, including regrouping of terrorists, while some in the Home Ministry favouring the extension of anti-terror operations with a rider that intelligence-based operations should be increased.
The Kashmir Valley has witnessed the killings of over 55 militants and the deaths of 27 locals this year, according to the government figures.
At present, the situation in Kashmir is considered to be turbulent as nearly 80 incidents of violence were reported in the last four months. Civilians were often seen thronging to encounter sites to stage protests with the intention of giving the militants an opportunity to escape.
(With PTI inputs)