As security agencies rounded up separatist and radical trouble makers from the Kashmir Valley, incidents of stone-pelting have drastically fallen despite escalating tensions between India and Pakistan over the axing of Article 370. In the past 48 hours, the Valley has been more or less calm barring few sporadic incidents of stone-pelting in Soura and downtown areas of Srinagar.
In a security exercise stretching over a couple of months, Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh and his team of handpicked officers identified scores of separatist and key radical leaders who were instrumental in orchestrating stone-pelting incidents in the Valley.
“In a swift move, we picked up these pro-Pakistani radical elements from their dens on (and after) August 5 and shifted them out of the state to various central jails in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and other northern states,” said a senior IPS officer of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre.
“At least a month in advance, we visited jails in Agra, Bareilly, Lucknow and other places and chalked out an effective plan to raid, arrest and shift these elements out of the Valley.”
According to the officer, an exhaustive list of radical elements, trouble makers and agents of Pakistan was prepared by the state with the help of Central agencies.
“For instance, Qasim Fakhtoo, husband of Asiya Andrabi and the mastermind behind launching violent stone-pelting attacks, was shifted with his key aides outside the state. Another potential trouble maker, Mian Qayoom, President of the J&K Bar Association and kingpin of stone pelter groups, was airlifted from Srinagar to an Agra prison. This ‘isolation strategy’ has really made the change and worked for us,” he added.
There is a mild relaxation of curfew in Srinagar during the evening, mostly between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. when residents are allowed to buy grocery items.
Vegetable and fruit kiosks are also allowed to open in the evening. However, restrictions were stricter in downtown localities while on the outskirts of the state capital grocery shops were mostly open during day time.
Hospitals, ambulances and emergency services are functioning smoothly. At the Lal Ded Maternity Hospital, Wazirbagh, relatives are being freely allowed to meet patients. At the Badami Bagh children hospital, parents are seen moving in and out during the day.
One of the doctors said: “Medicines, drugs and other pharmacy items were stored in advance. Still, there is no dearth of medicines as chemist shops are allowed to function.”
The administration is also lenient with people who are visiting hospitals. During the curfew, security forces allow people and patients to visit hospitals after checking their ID cards.
As the curfew seems to continue for an indefinite period, the mood of the people is a bit tense as they are worried about the schooling of their wards.
Business, especially tourism, has also been hit hard. Local residents are sceptical of getting government jobs due to the scrapping of special status to the state.
On Saturday, Governor Satya Pal Malik assured the residents that preference will be given to the domicile in government jobs. Amid such anxiety, property dealer appears to be optimistic.
They feel that scrapping of Article 370 will now appreciate rates of property.
“The investment will certainly come. I hope the property rates will go up. We will have more buyers and this means more money for the land,” said Ghulam Hasan Bhatt, a leading property dealer in Srinagar.
As of now, the Valley is calm. But the one big regret it seems to be the snapping of all phone lines.
Local residents are requesting authorities to restore communication as it was seriously affecting their daily life.
Even during Eid on Monday, a majority of Kashmiris failed to greet their distant relatives and friends. Eid for the first time here was limited to one’s own home and street.
The government announced that it will ease restrictions on the movement of people in the Valley in a phased manner while claiming that normalcy has been restored in the Jammu division.
Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said here that the decision to ease restrictions was taken after an assessment by local authorities of the situation prevailing in various parts of the Valley.
Kansal, who was accompanied by Commissioner Secretary Information M.K. Dwivedi and Director, Information and Public Relations, Syed Sehrish Asgar, also announced that there is no shortage of medicines, including life-saving drugs, in any part of the Valley.
The spokesperson said that medical services are being provided to the people without any hindrance and claimed that 13,500 patients have been treated in the outpatient’s departments (OPDs) of the government hospitals. The officials claimed that 1,400 new admissions have also been done while 600 patients have undergone medical procedures.
The traffic flow on the national highway is moving smoothly while air operations are also normal, the officials said.
The administration also carried out a full dress rehearsal for the Independence Day functions to be held in every district on Thursday.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Centre government required time to bring back normalcy in the Kashmir Valley as nothing can be done overnight.
An apex court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra made the observation when the Central government informed the court that it was doing everything necessary to maintain law and order in Jammu and Kashmir.
Thereafter, the court deferred after two weeks the hearing on a petition filed by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla challenging the Centre’s decision to impose restrictions and “other regressive measures” in Jammu and Kashmir.
The court stressed that it was a “serious issue” and said that it would not interfere right now in the situation and let the government continue with its efforts to maintain law and order in the Valley.
The Central government, assuring the court that normalcy would be restored in the Valley in a few days, said that in the 2016 disturbances 47 persons were killed but this time not a single person had died.
The government also informed the court that they were reviewing the situation day by day and we’re committed to ensuring the least human rights violations.
Last week, Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was revoked and curfew imposed to curb attempts
When the court asked how long the curbs in Valley would continue, Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal said the government was trying to ensure the least inconvenience to the people and maintain the peace. He said the situation was highly sensitive.
Representing Poonawala, Maneka Guruswamy said such was the situation that nobody knew about the happenings there. If the government’s intention was to make Kashmiris full citizens, then it could not impose such restrictions, she submitted.
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the manner in which the BJP-led central government revoked Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir was ‘completely unconstitutional’ and ‘against all principles of democracy’.
“There are rules to be followed when such things are done, which were not followed in this case,” Gandhi said while briefly speaking with reporters during her visit to meet the victims of the Sonebhadra carnage.
This is the first reaction from Priyanka Gandhi on an issue that has left Congress completely divided.
Several Congress leaders have openly backed the government’s move.
The party’s chief whip in Rajya Sabha Bhubaneswar Kalita even resigned from the party and his House membership to protest the Congress’s stand on the issue.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was at the helm of the party’s campaign in western Uttar Pradesh along with Priyanka in the eastern part, has also supported the Modi government on the revocation of Article 370 that had until now bestowed special status on Jammu and Kashmir.
Keeping in tune with the government’s plan to hold Independence Day functions in every district of Jammu and Kashmir, a full dress rehearsal of the flag hoisting ceremony was held in the District Police Lines in Kupwara on Tuesday.
Similar preparations are being carried out in other districts as well, including Handwara and Karnah.
In Kupwara, Additional District Development Commissioner Mohammad Ashraf Bhat unfurled the national flag and took the salute at the march past comprising contingents of J&K Police, Indian Reserve Police (IRP), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), J&K Home Guards and police commandos.
Speaking on the occasion, Bhat said that work on 161 languishing projects with an allocation of Rs 415 crore was going on in full swing in Kupwara.
He also said that Rs 213 crore has been incurred for the execution of various development and welfare schemes under the district plan. (IANS)