After sudden deployment of additional forces, there has been a stream of new orders forcing people to think whether something big is on the horizon. Govt assurances fail to calm spirits.
By Sagrika Kissu
Since the past week or so, Kashmiris have been living in perpetual anxiety. The news of sudden dispatch of 10,000 additional forces to Kashmir, along with the latest order seeking details of the mosques, has triggered apprehensions over the abrogation of Article 35A, which confers special rights to the permanent residents of the state. The latest order, issued by the Srinagar senior superintendent of police, directs zonal SPs to provide the list of mosques in the city and also its management committees.
The order reads, “Please provide details of mosques and their managements falling with your respective jurisdictions as per proforma to this office immediately for onward submission to higher authorities. As per the format. The requisite information should reach DPO Srinagar tomorrow on 29-07-2019 at 1000 Hrs sharp with soft copy. Urgent.”
Another order which found its way on the scale media directed the police to collect information about the passenger capacity of taxis and fuel capacity of petrol pumps, according to Times of India.
The flow of orders started after National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval completed his two-day visit to Kashmir. It is said that the meeting was held to brief Doval about the security scenario in the valley.
Even after the authorities assertion that deployment was part of a normal routine, the slew of orders, one after another, are adding to the existing anxieties of the residents.
It may also be recalled that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is ruling at the Centre, had stated in its 2019 election manifesto that it was committed to annulling Article 35A. “We reiterate our position, since the time of the Jan Sangh, to the abrogation of Article 370,” the manifesto or Sankalp Patra of the party said.
Meanwhile, an atmosphere of panic is palpable among people in the Valley.
“It’s an attempt to gag the social, political and religious life of a Kashmiri. There is obfuscation in the orders which fuelling further fear and alienation. They deployed troops for Amarnath Yatra, which was welcomed by everyone, but more than a religious exercise, it has taken a shape of a military exercise. But let me tell you when fear psychosis is created, it unites people. People will unite and resist it because they are left with no option. Going by the recent orders it feels that New Delhi has some ill advisors on Kashmir,” said Saqib Yetoo, a Kashmiri student from St Stephen’s College.
It’s pertinent to note that 40,000 paramilitary personnel have already been deployed for guarding the ongoing Amarnath Yatra that will culminate on August 15. This is not the first time. After the deadly Pulwama suicide attack in February 2019, similar trepidation was witnessed in Kashmir, fuelled by obscure orders, which later saw India and Pakistan at the brink of war.
The fresh orders have once again stoked apprehensions about Article 35A, sending political parties in panic mode too.
According to news agency PTI, People’s Democratic Party leader and former state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has asked rival National Conference president and former CM Farooq Abdullah to convene and all-party meeting to discuss the prevailing situation.
“In light of recent developments that have caused a sense of panic amongst people in J&K, I’ve requested Dr Farooq Abdullah sahab to convene an all party meeting. Need of the hour is to come together & forge a united response. We the people of Kashmir need to stand up as one (sic),” Mufti wrote on Twitter.
As per reports, mainstream political parties have started their efforts to seek clarity from the Centre with Abdullah requesting an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Henry Louis Mencken, an American journalist and essayist once wrote, “The whole aim of political parties is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” Mencken’s assertion seems true in Kashmir.
The entire valley remains entrenched in fear, trying to guess what the BJP-led Centre’s next move will be. Some local people were even seen panic-buying essentials items.
Human rights activist Khurram Parvez termed the current situation as “using fear as the permanent weapon against the people of Kashmir.”
Parvez told NewsClick, “It’s not about one order or the other but the aim to create fear among people. It is more about using fear as permanent tactic of war in Kashmir. Government of India thinks it will achieve much but we have seen all over the world where people have tried to use fear. Overusing fear leads to more violence. It is not in the interest of India. It is not in the interest of Kashmir. Creating fear psychosis will make people angrier and, may be, more violent.”
For academician and senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, Siddiq Wahid, the Centre’s policy is similar to what Israel has done in Gaza. “One day after other, we hear something or the other that has been done anew. And this is a policy which is very much in keeping with what Israel has done in Gaza in order to confine the people to their own territory.”
“I don’t think there is something nefarious going on but it is certainly intended for making an inventory of every single person in this valley in a bid to keep a record of everything,” Wahid added.
Governor Rejects Rumours Over Special Status, Says “No Order Valid”
SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik today said people should not pay heed to rumours of any major decision on the special status of the state as “everything is normal”.
“A lot of rumours are spread here. Do not pay any heed to them. Everything is fine, everything is normal,” Governor Malik said when asked about the several orders appearing on social media about the possibility of a prolonged law and order situation in Kashmir valley.
The Governor said the orders that appeared the social media in recent days were not valid.
“No order is valid. If someone catches a sneeze in Lal Chowk, by the time it reaches Governor House, it is projected as a bomb blast,” he added.
Kashmir valley has been on the edge for the past week after the centre decided to send 100 companies of additional Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPFs) to the valley, giving rise to speculations that the BJP-led union government might repeal Article 35-A of the Constitution that provides for special residency and job rights to the people of the state.
Over the past three days, several orders issued by state government officials and some central government departments had further fuelled speculations that a major decision on Jammu and Kashmir was likely coming.
While a Railway Protection Force officer had issued an order asking employees to stock up rations for four months in view of prediction of deteriorating law and order situation, the Senior Superintendent of Police of Srinagar directed five zonal senior police officers in the city to collect details of all the mosques and their management committees, and submit them immediately.
While the Railway Protection Force officer was transferred on Monday, the senior police officer said collecting information about mosques was part of routine policing.
Abdullah says yes to all-party meeting on Article 35A
Srinagar: Immediately after PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Monday sought help from her rival party National Conference’s patriarch Farooq Abdullah to present a united front against the Centre’s rumoured plans to end Article 35A, the latter said that they were calling an all-party meeting within two or three days to discuss the issue.
“I am presently in Delhi and am in touch with other leaders and we will accordingly decide about the date (for calling all-party meeting),” Abdullah told Kashmir News Service (KNS) from New Delhi when asked to react over Mehbooba’s statement.
“There is panic (in Kashmir) as one lakh soldiers have been called which is not a joke. On one hand government claims situation is normal, yatra is going on smoothly and tourists are coming while on the other they are deploying more forces and have kept masjids under scrutiny,” the NC chief said.
While taking a jibe at Center’s decision to keep the management committees of the majsids under watch, he told KNS, “They (government) are not keeping an eye on gurdwaras, temples or churches, but why masjids are being singled out. This is a serious issue as masjids are for prayers. This is a serious issue and that is why we are calling the meeting.”
Asked to comment on the speculations regarding revocation of Article 35A and Article 370, he said, “They (Center) say one thing and do other. We don’t trust them (New Delhi). We have to discuss it and remain ready to face it.”
Sources said Abdullah along with two other NC MPs – Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi – are scheduled to meet opposition leaders in New Delhi on Tuesday. “The NC delegation is also likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where they will brief him about the situation which could emerge if Article 35A is revoked,” they said.
Earlier, Mehbooba in a tweet said, “In light of recent developments that have caused a sense of panic amongst people in J&K, I’ve requested Dr Farooq Abdullah sahab to convene an all party meeting. Need of the hour is to come together & forge a united response. We the people of Kashmir need to stand up as one.”
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