SRINAGAR: Authorities today launched a cordon and search operation against militants in the restive south Kashmir, a day after the BJP-led Centre suspended the “unilateral ceasefire” in counterinsurgency operations that was rejected by militant outfits operating in the Valley.

Observers see the Centre’s announcement as a “setback” to the efforts of the J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s call for dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad on Kashmir and it is likely to aggravate the situation that had remained relatively calm during the holy month gone by.

“The state government got the Centre to announce the ceasefire and implement it in letter and spirit as a stepping stone for dialogue on Kashmir but the non-involvement of militant outfits in the process had made it a failure right from the beginning,” Noor A Baba, a prominent political scientist said.

“It is a major setback to dialogue on Kashmir,” Baba, who is Dean of Social Science at the Central University of Kashmir, added.

In a tweet yesterday, the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh ended the month-long cessation of operations against militants, despite the state government vociferously opposing any such move during a high-level meeting of top Army and other officers of the security grid chaired by Singh in the national capital last week.

“The Government of India decides not to extend the suspension of operations in J&K announced in the beginning of Ramazan. The operations against the terrorists to resume,” Singh said in a series of tweets yesterday.

During a presentation made before the meeting, the J&K government led by the DGP S P Vaid and Chief Secretary B B Vyas had advocated continuation of the ceasefire which had brought down number of civilian and militant killings significantly during the month of May.

However, with the Pakistan-based United Jihad Council chief Syed Salahuddin outrightly rejecting the offer of ceasefire, militants continued to carry out attacks on security forces in Kashmir during the month of Ramazan as well, negating the purpose of New Delhi’s offer.

Nearly two dozen grenade attacks were launched by militants with security forces also suffering heavy casualties, most of them during ceasefire violations by the armies of India and Pakistan along the tense International Border and the Line of Control.

Meanwhile, with ceasefire coming to an end, a senior police officer said a joint team of J&K Police’s Special Operations Groups and the Army’s 3 Rashtriya Rifles launched an operation in Bijbehara area of south Kashmir following intelligence about the presence of a group of militants there.

“Door to door searches are being carried out in some localities. There are apprehensions about presence of a group of militants in the area,” police sources said, adding that some localities have been sealed to prevent anyone from moving out.