Several people were reportedly detained after they protested in the main market area of Kargil on Thursday, defying restrictions imposed under Section 144 of CrPC and protesting the Centre’s decision to scrap J&K’s special status and split it into two Union Territories.
The protesters, demanding restoration of Article 370, later clashed with police and ITBP personnel. Some protesters reportedly threw stones at the security forces, following which there was lathicharge and use of tear-gas.
Residents and members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Kargil, a religious-political group that is opposing the Centre’s decision, claimed at least 12 protesters were detained — a charge that Kargil District Magistrate Baseer Ul Haq Choudhary denied.
“There has been no arrest so far. Section 144 continues to be in place but the situation is normal and under control. People are now moving out to get essential commodities,” he told The Indian Express around 3 pm Thursday.
He also said, “By tomorrow, the situation in the town will return to normal. Most people in Kargil are happy with the decision.”
Section 144 was imposed in Kargil town, along with Drass and Sankoo regions of Kargil, since 5 am Thursday “in connection with apprehended danger to peace and tranquility”, according to the administration.
All shops, banks, schools and colleges remained shut and there was heavy security presence across Kargil town. Only a handful of local residents were seen on the streets after 1 pm. At least seven security checkposts were placed on the 216-km stretch between Leh and Kargil, preventing any movement from outside into the town.
Later in the evening, some people were seen stepping out. Around 6.30 pm, Section 144 was lifted, but mobile internet services continued to be shut.
District Magistrate Choudhary said: “People are slowly understanding what it means for Kargil to become a UT, and the benefits of development and employment it will bring. We are holding meetings with political parties, religious groups and the public to explain things to them.”