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Kashmir on edge as fresh orders trigger rumours on 35A

Last updated on: July 29, 2019 23:08 IST

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has ordered the police to immediately provide details of the mosques in the valley where the Centre has moved additional forces fuelling speculation by the regional parties on the fate of Article 35A that gives special status to the state.

IMAGE: Security personnel guard outside a newly constructed bunker, on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar. Photograph: PTI Photo

As the valley remained on the edge, Union minister Jitendra Singh on Monday said the deployment of 10,000 security personnel in J and K was part of the security drill and blamed the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party for "creating noise", claiming they feared losing people's mandate.

The NC and the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP also initiated efforts to seek clarity from the Centre on its thinking over Article 35 A of the Constitution with NC president Farooq Abdullah seeking an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mehbooba also called for forging an united front by the state parties to thwart any move to scrap this constitutional provision that confers certain rights and privileges on the residents of the state.

The BJP's central leadership is also due to hold a meeting with the core group of its J and K unit on Tuesday to discuss the political atmosphere in the state and also the party's preparedness for assembly elections, which may be held later this year.

 

Party sources said Jitendra Singh, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, its state unit president Ravinder Raina and other senior leaders from the state will attend the meeting likely to be chaired by party's working president JP Nadda.

Senior leaders including BJP general secretary (organisation) BL Santosh will also attend.

A state party leader said BJP president Amit Shah, who is also the home minister and who recently visited the state, may also meet the the visiting team.

The state administration on Sunday night issued an order directing five zonal superintendents of police in the Valley to provide a list of mosques in the city and its management committees, while another, which has made its way to the social media, has asked police officers in Srinagar to collect information about passenger capacity of taxis and fuel capacity of petrol pumps.

"Please provide details of mosques and their managements falling without your respective jurisdictions as per enclosed proforma to this office immediately for onward submission to higher authorities," according to the order issued by the Srinagar senior superintendent of police.

Besides this, the officers have been asked to provide information about the ideological affiliation of the mosque committee.

These orders, which were supposed to be confidential, have found their way to the social media but some officers on the ground said they were yet to receive them. There was no official word on the orders.

Last week, the Centre decided to send an additional 100 companies of central armed paramilitary forces to the state.

Of the 100 companies (10,000 personnel), 80 companies are to be deployed in the valley.

"We are hopeful of having an all party meeting in Srinagar this Thursday to discuss the current situation and also evolve a consensus on the way ahead," Farooq Abdullah said.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said he has sought an appointment with Prime Minister Modi in this regard but he is yet to hear from his office.

"We have requested the prime minister for a meeting and I am hopeful to hear from his office very soon in view of the sensitive situation in Jammu and Kashmir," Abdullah said.

IMAGE: New security bunkers have been constructed in many parts of Srinagar city as tensions mounted in Kashmir over the deployment of 100 companies of additional security forces,. Photograph: PTI Photo

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," she said in the tweet.

However, NC vice president Omar Abdullah responded by saying the party was making efforts to understand the intentions of the central government for the state.

"Before calling senior leaders from other parties in J&K to discuss the current situation it's important to try to understand from the Central Govt about their intentions for the state & also how they see the situation at the moment. This is what @JKNC_ is focused on," he tweeted.

The state parties have vowed to resist any move to tinker with the special status.

"The additional deployment is for security arrangement... They (the political parties) have been carrying forward their legacy with 8-10 per cent voter turnout. They are scared that if the situation changes their sovereignty built in the last 30-40 years will come to an end," Jitendra Singh told reporters in Delhi when asked about the deployment of 10,000 additional troops.

Construction of new security pickets in the city was also seen against the backdrop of additional deployment of CAPFs in Kashmir. Several bunkers have come up in the old city in Srinagar and areas frequented by tourists, including the Boulevard road along the Dal Lake.

Responding to questions, governor's advisor on home affairs K Vijay Kumar said he cannot be countering rumours and speculations all the time.

"If somebody is causing panic or a rumour on social media, then I should not be countering it; it won't be proper. Somebody said extra security forces are coming. It is a calculated, deliberate, consulted response to the security grid available here.

"There was a reduction of the security grid due to our focus on the Amarnath Yatra. Therefore, the need arose, after deliberations, to requisition little more forces. It is a part of a plan which is in the pipeline," Kumar said.

On Saturday, a letter by a Railway Protection Force official in Budgam asking employees to stock ration for at least four months and take other steps due to "forecast of deteriorating situation" in the Valley "for a long period" created a flutter.

The railways, however, clarified that the letter by Sudesh Nugyal, assistant security commissioner, had no basis and the official had no authority to issue it.

RPF DG Arun Kumar said the officer who issued the order has been transferred but gave no details.

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