The heightened uncertainty in the Valley took a turn for the worse as the government late Sunday night imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in Srinagar district and placed the top leadership of the state — NC leaders Omar and Farooq Abdullah, and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, among others — under house arrest. Internet services were entirely shut down in several parts of the Valley.
The government order said Section 144 would come into effect in Srinagar from the midnight of August 5 and remain in force till further orders. While ruling out curfew, the order also said public meetings or rallies would be disallowed and there would be “no movement of public and all educational institutions shall also remain closed”.
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Minutes before he was placed under house arrest, Omar Abdullah tweeted: “I believe I’m being placed under house arrest from midnight tonight & the process has already started for other mainstream leaders. No way of knowing if this is true but if it is, then I’ll see all of you on the other side of whatever is in store. Allah save us.” Read in Malayalam, Bangla
I believe I’m being placed under house arrest from midnight tonight & the process has already started for other mainstream leaders. No way of knowing if this is true but if it is then I’ll see all of you on the other side of whatever is in store. Allah save us 🙏🏼
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) August 4, 2019
Minutes earlier, at 11.12 pm, Mufti tweeted: “Hearing about internet being snapped soon including cellular coverage. Curfew passes being issued too. God knows what awaits us tomorrow. It’s going to be a long night.”
Earlier in the day, J&K’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) issued a notice to former chief minister in the J&K Bank recruitment case and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) summoned former Independent legislator Engineer Rashid to New Delhi.
The notices added to the confusion and panic in the Valley. Paramilitary forces remained deployed across Kashmir, while satellite phones have reached civil administration officials. On Sunday evening, a directory with the satellite numbers of administrative officials – deputy commissioners and senior police offiers – appeared on social media.
In Jammu, all schools, colleges and academic institutions have been advised to remain closed on Monday as a precautionary measure.
The ACB notice, dated August 3, was delivered to Mufti at her residence on Sunday. The notice, which sought to know if she had verbally or otherwise endorsed the recommendations made by ministers in the PDP-BJP government for appointments in J&K Bank, read: “During the course of investigation of case FIR No 10/2019 P/S ACKB dated 08/06/2019, it has surfaced that some appointments were made by Chairman J&K Bank on references of recommendation of few ministers… It may please be clarified whether such a reference had your endorsement, verbal or otherwise, for appointments in J&K Bank.”
Mufti, who posted the letter on Twitter, said the notice was part of an attempt to “browbeat mainstream leaders” in the state.
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Former MLA Rashid, who received a summons from the NIA, is in New Delhi to present himself before the Central investigation agency.
Late evening on Sunday, after an all-party meeting which he presided at his residence, former chief minister and National Conference chairman Farooq Abdullah said, “The modification, abrogation of Article 35A, 370 and unconstitutional delimitation or trifurcation of the State would be an aggression against the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh… All parties would be united in their resolve to protect and defend the identity, autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir against all attacks and onslaughts whatsoever.”
He said the leaders have sought an audience with President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “apprise them of the current situation”.
The meeting, held at Abdullah’s residence in Srinagar, was attended by, among others, NC’s Omar Abdullah, PDP’s Muzaffar Hussain Beig, and J&K People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone, IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal, Congress leader Taj Mohideen and CPI(M)’s M Y Tarigami.
The tension had been building through the day, with non-Kashmiri cricketers sent back. All-rounder Irfan Pathan, who is the mentor of the J&K cricket team, and his support staff flew back on Sunday.
“Since Amarnath yatris and tourists have been sent back, we decided to send them back as well. In two days, we have sent back 115 people, including 100 players from Jammu,” said Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association Chief Executive Officer Syed Aashiq Hussain Bukhari.
Director, Tourism, Nisar Wani said 98% of the tourists who were present in Kashmir have left.
A senior CRPF officer in Srinagar told The Indian Express that “everything has been finalised regarding deployment” and that they are waiting for “further orders” from higher-ups.
On Sunday, a large number of migrant labourers left Kashmir. A huge rush was witnessed at the Srinagar railway station, where labourers lined up for trains.
A senior airport officer said 400 tourists had been flown out on IAF aircraft. “There are very few tourists arriving in Srinagar now… We are making efforts to send them back immediately,” he said.
Rumours also continued to do the rounds due to the spree of official orders appearing on social media, including one by “District Police, Baramulla” seeking the presence of all officials and officers in proper uniform “for further duties”, including some with “bag and baggage”.
Another order, from Deputy Commissioner, Kargil, Baseer-ul-Haq, asked district officers and sub-divisional magistrates not to leave stations “under any circumstances”, “without prior approval”. “No officer shall keep his/her mobile phone on switched off mode,” read the order. Haq said it was a “routine order”, “intended to streamline day-to-day affairs” and had “nothing to do with any situation”.
The J&K High Court announced that it was postponing an interview and viva voce exam for the post of drivers that was scheduled for August 7. A number of universities, including Central University of Kashmir, Islamic University of Science and Technology in Awantipora and Kashmir University, postponed their exams
The District Magistrate of Anantnag ordered petrol dealers to not conduct any “sale of petrol/diesel without permission”.