With mobile communication and Internet services suspended and public movement restricted, all of the Kashmir Valley was in a state of lockdown from midnight Sunday, well before the Cabinet met in New Delhi Monday morning and Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the decision to do away with Article 370 in Rajya Sabha.PTI, quoting officials, reported that former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have been arrested along with People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone. The only voices of dissent from the Valley came from two PDP MPs in Rajya Sabha Mir Fayaz and Nazir Ahmed Laway.
The PDP MPs trooped into the Well along with Opposition parties shouting slogans against the Modi government’s move to scrap Article 370 and bring a Bill to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. The PDP members also took a copy of the Constitution from the table officers and started to tear its pages, when they were marshalled out of the House.
While the Opposition criticised the BJP’s decision, the Valley did not witness violence, the government said, largely since more than 300 companies (30,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces have been pushed into the region over the last two weeks. Union I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar said in the
House that he had learnt that there were no protests in the Valley.
On Monday, the Home Ministry dispatched another eight companies of central armed police forces (CAPFs) to Kashmir to maintain law and order and CRPF DG R R Bhatnagar is expected to stay in Kashmir for the next few days as forces brace for prolonged unrest.
This takes the total number of personnel engaged in law and order duties in Kashmir to close to 1 lakh, as 60 battalions of the CRPF are stationed in the Valley around the year.
The Home Ministry also issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories to keep security forces on “maximum alert” to “pre-empt” any attempt to disrupt “peace and public harmony”, and to take “special care” to “ensure safety and security of residents of Jammu and Kashmir, specially students”, living in other parts of the country.
“As you would be aware, the Union Cabinet has taken some important decisions today concerning Jammu and Kashmir, in the overall national interest and to strengthen national security. It is essential that this occasion is not allowed to be misused by inimical and anti-social elements to cause breach of security, peace and public harmony in any part of the country,” said the advisory, issued by the MHA’s Internal Security Division.
“It is further requested that all requisite measures may be taken to ensure that peace and communal amity is maintained in all parts of the country and special attention may be paid to communally sensitive and fragile areas,” it said.
According to inputs received by the Home Ministry, the Valley is likely to see a spike in stone-pelting incidents in the coming days and more local youth are expected to join militant ranks. The input also mentioned that as many as 76 local youth have already picked up the gun this year. The inputs, sources said, also mentioned that Pakistan is likely to exploit the situation and push more terrorists into the Valley. It said 34 infiltrations have already happened this year and is likely to increase in the wake of the move to scrap Article 370.
“There will be a massive law and order fall out of this decision and we are prepared for the long haul. There may not be much violence in the next few days as too much security has been put in place. But in a week’s time, we are expecting both stones and bullets as forces behind them get their act together and organise protests,” said a Home Ministry official.
The All Indian Council for Technical Education (AICTE) also wrote to all institutes covered under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) Monday advising them to take “special care” of all students from Jammu and Kashmir studying with them.
Another letter was written to all J&K students admitted through PMSSS asking them to approach the institute administration in case they need any help. PMSSS is a merit-based programme that offers admission to J&K students in colleges, institutes and universities across the country and pays for their tuition and board.