– Union Home Minister Amit Shah Monday announced scrapping of the special status granted to Jammu-Kashmir by modifying Article 370 of the Constitution. Shah said the state will now be divided into two Union Territories — Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir. While the Ladakh UT will be without a legislature, the UT of J&K will be with legislature. Shah read out the President’s Order in this regard. Apart from NDA allies, BJP’s rivals like BSP and AAP, and fence-sitters like Naveen Patnaik’s BJD, Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP and Bodoland People’s Front (BDF) supported the Bill. JD(U), Congress, TMC, DMK, PDP and Vaiko’s MDMK, meanwhile, vehemently opposed the move.
– Article 370 exempted Jammu & Kashmir from the Indian Constitution (except Article 1 and Article 370 itself) and permitted the state to draft its own Constitution. It restricted Parliament’s legislative powers in respect of J&K, limiting it to matters of Defence, External Affairs and Communications.
– Kashmir has been in the grip of panic and confusion over the past week amid heavy deployment of security forces and cancellation of the Amarnath Yatra. Late Sunday, the J&K administration imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in Srinagar district with effect from August 5 midnight. The restrictions remain in force until further orders
– All major leaders of the Valley, including PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference’s Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference’s Sajad Lone, have been put under house arrest.
– Mobile, broadband Internet and cable TV services have been entirely shut down.
– Earlier on Friday, the government called off the annual Amarnath Yatra ahead of time and ordered yatris and tourists to leave the Valley immediately, amid the Army receiving inputs of Pakistan terrorists planning an attack on the yatra. By Sunday, Director, Tourism, Nisar Wani, said 98% of the tourists present in Kashmir had left.
– Students of NIT Srinagar were also asked to evacuate their hostels. All universities, schools and colleges in the state have been closed until further notice. On Sunday, a large number of migrant labourers left Kashmir.
– Opposition leaders have slammed the BJP government. On Monday, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted: “What is going on in J&K? Why would leaders be arrested overnight while having done no wrong? If Kashmiris are our citizens & their leaders our partners, surely the mainstream ones must be kept on board while we act against terrorists & separatists? If we alienate them, who’s left?”
– Earlier, a series of government orders and no clear communication had caused panic in the Valley. On July 28, a Divisional Security Commissioner of Railways in the Valley asked officials to store ration for four months, not keep their family in Kashmir and to restrict staff leave due to “emergency situations”. On the same day, another order by police asked its officers in Srinagar to “provide details of mosques and their management…” On July 30, Governor Satya Pal Malik, however, said: “None of the orders being shown are valid, there is a lot of rumour mongering here.”
– The government has been increasing security build-up in the state. On July 25, the Centre deployed 100 companies of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces in Kashmir. On August 1, around 25,000 more paramilitary men were moved to Valley. On Monday, there are reports of 8,000 paramilitary troops being airlifted to Kashmir from Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Assam and other parts of the country.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines