J&K's Omar Abdulah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajad Lone under house arrest
05 August 2019
Kashmir’s so-called mainstream politicians, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and People's Conference chief Sajad Lone were placed under house arrest at midnight, even as the state government imposed Section 144 in the entire Srinagar district, banning public meetings, rallies, and gatherings, and movement of people till further orders.
The arrests of the votaries of special status to the state that safeguards the interests of sections of J&K population and invaders from Pakistan, were placed under house arrest at midnight, fuelling speculation that the centre is planning a major initiative like scrapping Article 35A of the Constitution.
Article 35A allows the Jammu and Kashmir assembly to frame rules defining "permanent residents" and prohibits non-permanent residents from settling permanently in the state, acquiring immovable property, government jobs and scholarships.
J&K governor Satyapal Malik on Sunday remarked that any initiative on Article 35A would not be a "secret" and could be revealed in Parliament, which is in session.
News reports indicated that while Section 144 has been imposed in Srinagar district, internet services are also being restricted across the valley. A telecom shut-down also seems likely.
All educational institutions were told to remain closed. In Jammu, too, all schools, colleges and educational institutions were advised to remain closed.
Security agencies are looking to pre-empt attempts by separatist organisations to fan trouble.
"How ironic that elected representatives like us who fought for peace are under house arrest. The world watches as people & their voices are being muzzled in J&K," Mehbooba Mufti tweeted. Omar Abdullah wrote: "I'll see all of you on the other side of whatever is in store. Allah save us."
Earlier in the day, Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and other leaders from political parties in the state held a meeting and issued a resolution, warning the government of "consequences" if it changed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
In Delhi, union home minister Amit Shah held a meeting with top security and intelligence officials. The hour-long meeting was attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, union home secretary Rajiv Gauba and other senior officials. The union cabinet is scheduled to meet on at 9:30 am today at the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.
The uncertainty had spiked on Friday with Jammu and Kashmir administration scrapping the Amarnath Yatra and asking pilgrims and tourists to leave the valley at the earliest. The order made anxious residents throng markets to stock on essentials and serpentine queues have been visible outside shops and fuel stations.
Additional paramilitary forces - as many as 35,000 - which were flown in last week, have been deployed across Srinagar and in other sensitive areas of Kashmir Valley, officials said.
Barricades have been erected on many arterial roads, including the entry and exit points to Srinagar. Riot control vehicles have also been kept on standby in some areas where there are apprehensions of unrest, the officials added.
The dramatic security clampdown stoked fears that the centre may have plans to modify or do away with Article 35A of the constitution, which gives exclusive rights to the state's residents in government jobs and land, or Article 370 which gives autonomous status to the state.