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Srinagar:

Kashmir is under alert. Section 144 has been imposed on the valley, top political leaders are under house arrest, the internet is suspended, it had been ordered to stock food grains, and additional paramilitary forces (35,000 in addition to the 6,50,000 already deployed) have been deployed.

But what really is happening? Why is there a situation of panic? The assumptions surround mostly around the attempt of the centre to modify the special status granted to the state under the constitution, strike down Article 35A or fiddle with Article 370.

At the same time, these conspicuous developments have led to a frenzied atmosphere with several thousand leaving the state due to panic.

Background

On August 2nd, the Indian army informed that security forces have unearthed a stock of arms, a mine which apparently had a Pakistan ordnance factory stamp, and an American sniper rifle M-24 on the route of Amarnath Yatra. This was the major reason that Lt. Gen Sarabjit Singh Dhillon gave for the deployment of army in the area.

The army announced that terrorists are targeting Amarnath Yatra and soon after this the Jammu and Kashmir administration asked the pilgrims and tourists to cut short their travel and return from the state.

The Principal Secretary (Home) issued an advisory, which read, “Keeping in view the latest intelligence inputs of terror threats, with specific targeting of the Amarnath Yatra, and given the prevailing security situation in the Kashmir Valley, in the interest of safety and security of the tourists and Amarnath Yatris, it is advised that they may curtail their stay in the Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return as soon as possible.”

Following these incidents, the political leaders of Kashmir met with Satyapal Malik, the governor. “We discussed the prevailing situation and fear among people with the Governor, who is the constitutional head of the state. It is his responsibility to clear about uncertainty over the deployment of troops and eviction of yatris and tourists,” Mehbooba told the media.

Why is it not an ‘Unnecessary Panic’ like BJP claims? 

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya pal Malik
(Screengrab courtesy: Hindustan Times)

The Governor of the state Satyapal Malik called the entire episode an ‘exaggerated rumour.’ However, former Chief Minister after meeting with the governor said, “We wanted to know about the current situation in J&K. When we ask officials they say something is happening, but nobody knows what actually is happening.” He also requested the central government to make a statement in parliament in the wake of recent developments.

The government also cancelled the Machail yatra (another pilgrim programme) and had sent back more than 6200 tourists were transported out of Kashmir valley. IT also closed down National Institute of Technology (NIT).

An order issued by the Registrar of NIT read: “This is for the information of all the students of the institute that the classwork for all courses stands suspended till further orders.” However, later Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, district magistrate clarified that it was a miscommunication.

Citing the recent security alerts in the state, the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, and Australia issued a travel advisory, asking their citizens not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu Kashmir cricket team’s coach and mentor Irfan Pathan was also asked to leave the state. “Our camp has been shut down and the cricketers were sent back to their homes. The camp was from June 14 to July 14 and after a break of ten days, camp restarted from July 25. Yesterday, about 100 players were sent back to their home. The matches were scheduled from July 31 and will last till August 17. These matches were organised for the selection of district cricketers,” he said.

Meetings, Discussions and Sec.144

Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other top security officials, to discuss the current situation at Kashmir.

An all-party meeting was held in the house of NCP Chief Abdullah. After the meeting, Farooq said, “I urged both the countries, India and Pakistan to not take any step that may accelerate the tension between the two countries.”

Following this, internet services were also snapped in Kashmir from Monday.

  • As per the order, there will be no movement of public and all educational institutions shall also remain closed.
  • There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order.
  • Restrictions and night curfews were also imposed in several districts as the Valley remained on edge with authorities stepping up security deployment.

House Arrests and Responses

Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Sajjad Lone were put under house arrest by the government, in the middle of this crisis situation.

Security deployment at vital installations and sensitive areas have been stepped up amid heightened terror threat and the flare-up of hostilities with Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC). Barricades have been erected on many arterial roads, including the entry and exit points to Srinagar, reported ANI.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s Rajya Sabha MP, Nazir Ahmad Laway have given a Zero Hour notice in the House over Kashmir issue. Amit Shah is expected to address the parliament today regarding the issue.

Social Media Campaigns

A post doing rounds in social media, widely shared by activists, have requested the people to change their display picture to Red. The note reads:

“Kashmiris fear an imminent war and brutal repression. They also fear the revocation of Article 35A, which would allow Indians to settle and buy property in the region, changing the demographics and furthering the settler-colonial designs of the Indian state.”

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