Srinagar, May 17: Thanks to the Union Home Ministry's announcement of non-initiation of combat operations against militants, the first day of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan began on Thursday on a peaceful note in Kashmir.
There were no protests or gunfights anywhere in the Valley on Thursday as people engaged themselves in normal activities of life without any fear. Life, especially in the four south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag, was normal after a long time because most of the gun battles between the security forces and the militants have occurred in these districts during the last three years.
After almost a forthright, the mobile Internet facility was restored in Shopian district, with students and businessmen who depend largely on the facility heaving a sigh of relief.
Security forces, however, have not lowered vigil, as most of their attention now remains focused on protection of camps, VVIP installations and the safety of routine patrols and convoys.
Separatist leaders including Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik have called the Central government's announcement "a cosmetic exercise", yet there is no denying the fact that after a long time, people moved about at their own pace without fear of being hauled up in a crackdown or getting caught in the crossfire between security forces and militants.
There has not been any positive response to the ceasefire announcement from the militants either. Militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has rejected the ceasefire.
"Even if the militants have not responded positively to the announcement, yet there is no doubt that given a chance, any peace loving devout Muslim would like to spend the month of Ramadan in prayer and penance," said Manzoor Ahmad, a resident of Pulwama district.
Kashmiris started Ramadan shopping on Thursday instead of the last day since most locals expected the holy month to begin on Friday.
Dates, other fruits, milk and basil seeds remained on top of the shopping life for locals as the fasting duration each day during this month would be over 15 hours.
It is after a long time that the holy month of Ramadan started the same day everywhere in the sub-continent and also the Arab World.