Palpable tension is building up in different parts of Kashmir valley in the run up to the crucial hearing of Article 35-A in the Supreme Court next week.
The apex court is hearing a bunch of petitions in the matter, including the one filed by NGO ‘We the Citizens’ seeking quashing of article 35-A, which confers special status to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 35A, was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order. The regional mainstream political parties, including the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have opposed the move.
Anticipating more trouble on ground zero, the state government Saturday launched massive crackdown against separatists, Jamaat-e-Islami activists and several others by carrying out nocturnal raids on their premises.
Meanwhile, to contain public anger and handle law and order situation centre also rushed additional 100 companies by air to further beef up security ‘bandobast’ in the region.
The move triggered endless rounds of speculations in different parts of Kashmir valley as local residents in the valley and mainstream politicians linked it with the emerging security scenario in the aftermath of terror strike on a CRPF convoy in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
To register their protest against the detention of Yasin Malik and Jamaat Chief Ameer Abdul Hamid Fayaz the joint resistance leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik issued a shutdown call for Sunday.
In a statement issued on Saturday, JRL said the “arbitrary” arrest of JKLF chairman Yasin Malik and the “mass crackdown and illegal detention” of more than 150 Jamat-e-Islami cadre and leadership including its Ameer Abdul Hamid Fayaz in nocturnal raids across the valley looks to be not only part of the continued policy of “suppression of pro-self-determination leadership and narrative, but in the case of hearing of 35A in Supreme Court most likely on Monday, an indication of what may be expected.”
Several mainstream politicians also reacted strongly to these developments on ground zero.
Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti Saturday said the ‘arbitrary’ moves will only precipitate matters in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mehbooba in a tweet while reacting on arrest of Hurriyat leaders and workers of Jamaat said under what legal grounds are their arrests justified?, saying “You can imprison a person but not his ideas.”
“In the past 24 hours, Hurriyat leaders & workers of Jamaat organisation have been arrested. Fail to understand such an arbitrary move which will only precipitate matters in J&K. Under what legal grounds are their arrests justified? You can imprison a person but not his ideas,” Mehbooba tweeted.
Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also condemned nocturnal crackdown on JKLF chief Yasin Malik and Jamat-e-Islami leadership and cadres.
In a tweet, Mirwaiz said such illegal and coercive measures against Kashmiris are futile and will not change realities on ground, saying that force and intimidation will only worsen the situation.
“Strongly condemn the nocturnal crackdown on Jamat-e-Islami leadership and cadres and the arrest of Yasin Malik. Such illegal and coercive measures against Kashmiris are futile and will not change realities on ground. Force and intimidation will only worsen the situation,” Mirwaiz tweeted.
Peoples Conference Chairman and former cabinet minister Sajjad Lone tweeted, “Gov seems to be on an arrest spree. Just a word of caution. Large scale arrests took place in 1990. Leaders were ferried to Jodhpur and many jails across the country. Things worsened. This is a tried tested and failed model. Please desist from it. It won’t work.Things will worsen”.
Authorities in Srinagar have ordered imposition of restrictions under section 144 of CrPC within the territorial jurisdictons of Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowhatta, Safakadal and MR Gunj police stations of the district on Sunday. The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident.
Local residents, in panic mode are stocking ration supplies and other essential items like Petrol and medicines to sustain themselves for longer duration.
Reacting to the situation former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “People in the valley, especially the cities & towns, are taking everything said or done as a sign that some big trouble is just around the corner. People are hoarding food & fuel. Some government orders are adding to the sense of panic”.