In a major decision, the Centre on Wednesday asked security forces not to launch operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the holy month of Ramzan.
The decision has been taken to help the peace loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment, a home ministry spokesperson said.
The security forces, however, reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people, the ministry said.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has informed Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the central government's decision.
"It is important to isolate the forces that bring a bad name to Islam by resorting to mindless violence and terror," the spokesperson said.
The government expects everyone to cooperate in this initiative and help the Muslim brothers and sisters to observe Ramzan peacefully and without any difficulties, the spokesperson said.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah welcomed the Centre's decision.
"I wholeheartedly welcome the Ramadan ceasefire & would like to thank @narendramodi ji & @rajnathsingh ji for their personal intervention. My gratitude also to the leaders & parties who participated in the All Party Meeting & helped build consensus towards this announcement," Mehbooba said in a tweet following the Centre's announcement.
She said Ramzan 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.
Omar said if the militants did not respond in kind to the Centre's unilateral halt on operations during the month of Ramzan, they will be exposed as enemies of the people.
"On the demand of all political parties (except the BJP, which had opposed it) the Centre has announced a unilateral ceasefire. Now if the militants don't respond in kind, they will stand exposed as the true enemies of the people," he said in a tweet.
The holy moth of Ramzan is likely to start on Thursday or Friday depending on the sighting of moon.