The Centre has asked security forces not to launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the month of Ramzan, the office of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.

“This decision has been taken to help peace-loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment,” the tweet read. “Home Minister Rajnath Singh has informed Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister [Mehbooba Mufti] of the Centre’s decision.”

However, the union home minister’s office said that the the security forces could retaliate if attacked, “or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people”. “The government expects everyone to cooperate in this initiative and help Muslim brothers and sisters observe Ramzan without any difficulty,” it added.

The Centre said it was necessary to “isolate the forces who bring a bad name to Islam” through violence and militancy.

Mufti thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh for their intervention. “The month of Ramadan is a harbinger of peace [and] such a decision will go a long way in creating a peaceful [and] amicable environment for a sustained dialogue,” she told ANI.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too welcomed the Centre’s decision. “Now if the militants don’t respond in kind, they will stand exposed as the true enemies of the people,” he said.

Omar Abullah’s father Farooq Abdullah, also a former chief minister, said it was a “great step forward”. “I would like to congratulate Home Minister Rajnath Singh [and] PM Modi,” he told ANI. “This reminds me of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s era [as prime minister] when he announced a unilateral ceasefire. I welcome this.”

On Saturday, Mufti had said that security forces should exercise “restraint” during the month of Ramzan. The chief minister asked the forces to “scale down confrontation with the civilian population and on-the-run militants” during Ramzan and the Amarnath Yatra”. Mufti’s statements come after the People’s Democratic Party’s alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party, on May 10 rejected her proposal for a unilateral ceasefire during Ramzan.