The failure of the Ramzan ceasefire in J&K must register as a classic example of official bungling: political, administrative and military. That only confirms the folly of both the state and central governments in misconstruing gestures, gimmicks, slogans etc as governance.

It is inevitable that hawks on both sides of a bitter divide will now not only be overjoyed that it is back to letting the guns do the talking, but actually encourage an escalation of the vicious circle of violence that has led nowhere for close to three decades.

Neither is a “military solution” in sight for the gory insurgency, nor is azadi anywhere on the horizon. Only the lives of the common folk have been shattered, and will continue to remain that way until some sanity descends on the scenic Valley. It is difficult to determine who is more to blame for another “peace move” coming unstuck ~ a shallow, emotional, inept chief minister who did little to utilise the so-called lull to build bridges, or the union home ministry that was never sincere about “giving peace a chance”.

One uncharitable interpretation is that the BJP leadership in Srinagar/Jammu and New Delhi wanted to give Mehbooba Mufti and her PDP a rope long enough with which to hang themselves. Maybe Ms Mufti was romantic, and imagined a unilateral ceasefire during the holy month would serve as a magic wand even though her alliance partner was not on board; Raisina Hill ought to have been more mature, and realised that an isolated initiative would not suffice. Has any “non-initiation of combat operations” ever paid dividends in the absence of associated moves?

The National Security Advisor ought to have averted such a fiasco, and prevented the government making a laughing stock of itself. The ceasefire may have been a gamble, every gambler assesses the odds before playing his cards. If North Block played ball only to prevent Mehbooba from claiming any credit that might have accrued, then it suggests urgent need for a revamp of the home ministry. The ceasefire had simply not been thought through.

There is little point in Mr Rajnath Singh citing casualty figures pointing out that there were more violent incidents during Ramzan than the month previous, or praising the forces for their restraint during the NICO ~ did he expect them to function in contravention of orders? Funny, little was heard from the Special Representative during the ceasefire: was that not a window for him to pursue his efforts? And what came in the way of the National Conference and other parties trying to broker a reduction of animosity?

The tragedy of J&K is that none of the actors can rise above vested interests. Now that the Ramzan ceasefire did nothing to warrant its extension, it is with trepidation that the Amarnath Yatra is awaited ~ fresh violence could trigger an ugly backlash.