The Centre Friday ordered the deployment of 100 additional companies of paramilitary forces to Jammu and Kashmir. The order was given as the Jammu and Kashmir Police detained separatist leader Yasin Malik and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) cadres. The detentions come ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on Article 35A, expected to be taken up on Monday.
The developments have led to panic and confusion in the Valley, with protests and spontaneous shutdowns called in several places.
Malik was detained from his residence in central Srinagar late Friday evening. The J&K Police confirmed that Malik has been kept under detention at the Kothi Bath police station. He is part of the Joint Resistance Leadership in J&K alongside Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
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A spokesperson of the JeI, meanwhile, confirmed that JeI leaders, including the party chief Hamid Fayaz, was detained during a massive crackdown launched by authorities against the group.
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 Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) February 23, 2019
“During the intervening night of February 22 and 23, police and other forces agencies launched mass arrest drive and raided many houses in the Valley wherein dozens of its central and district level leaders have been arrested,” its spokesperson said, adding that the move was a “well-designed conspiracy to pave way for further uncertainty in the region”.
“Something seems fishy at this moment when states special position is listed in Supreme Court. Article 35(A) which grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir is being heard within days and the way forces personnel unleashed the spree of mass arrest and detained dozens of Jama’at members prior to the hearing seems something is hatching behind the curtains,” JeI’s spokesperson added.
The development comes two days after the security of 18 Hurriyat leaders and more than 150 others in the state was withdrawn by the government, following the Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel on February 14. The state government had argued that this would make an additional 1000 men available for routine police work. The decision had been condemned by former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
The Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging Article 35A which empowers the J&K Constitution to define “permanent residents” of the state, and was added through “Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954”, issued by the President under Article 370. The constitutional provision has been challenged in the Supreme Court by the RSS linked groups.