Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Jammu & Kashmir tomorrow, a gun battle broke out between militants and security forces in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday. Army said that it is the first counter-militancy operation since the Centre announced a conditional suspension of operations during Ramzan.
On Wednesday, the Centre had announced that security forces will not launch any operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan. However, it also said that the forces reserve the right to retaliate if attacked.
Friday’s encounter broke out in Haphruda forests in Handwara area of Kupwara in north Kashmir, an Army official was quoted as saying by PTI. The gun battle was underway when reports last came in and further details were awaited.
Regarding the conditional ceasefire, the Union Home Ministry officials had said that the move was not a concession to the extremists, but an effort to create an environment free of terror and violence during the holy month and there will be no lowering of guard. They had said that the security forces, however, reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people.
Meanwhile, security forces in the state were put on high alert on Friday, ahead of PM Modi’s visit. All entry and exit points into Srinagar and Jammu have been sealed by police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who allowed vehicles to enter the cities only after thorough checking and frisking of the occupants.
The prime minister will tour all the three regions of the state during his visit. He will inaugurate the 330 MW Kishenganga hydroelectric power project in Bandipora district in the Kashmir Valley on Saturday. He will lay the foundation of the Zojila tunnel in Drass area of Kargil district. After completion, the tunnel would provide all-weather connectivity between the Valley and Ladakh region that otherwise remains cut off during the winter months.