Panic has gripped Jammu and Kashmir amid rumours of imminent abrogation of Article 35A of the Constitution and after the deployment of thousands of extra troops to the Valley.
Officials said that security has been withdrawn from some isolated shrines because of intelligence inputs that foreign terrorists are planning to target police guard there. Some langars for the Amarnath Yatra have also been closed.
Summer vacations were preponed and educational institutions have been closed for 10 days starting Thursday.
Local residents have started panic-buying essentials as they are linking the deployment of forces to apprehension of deterioration in the law and order situation.
Here is all you need about what led to this panic:
1. Army, Air Force put on high alert
The Centre on Friday put the Army and Air Force on high operational alert in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian Air Force fighter aircraft have been flying over the state since Thursday evening as part of the operation.
Rashtriya Rifles and other regular units deployed on the LoC have been asked to be prepared for any attempts by Pakistan to push terrorists into the Valley.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted saying, “What ‘ongoing situation’ in Kashmir would require the army AND the Air Force to be put on alert? This isn’t about 35A or delimitation. This sort of alert, if actually issued, would be about something very different.”
2. Deployment of additional troops in Kashmir
Government sources said 100 companies (10,000 personnel) of central forces were ordered for deployment in the state about a week ago and they are in the process of reaching their destinations.
On Thursday, reports suggested that 28,000 additional troops (280 companies) were in the process of being deployed in the Valley. The security forces, mostly CRPF personnel, are being deployed in vulnerable spots in Srinagar city and other parts of the Valley.
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Thursday reviewed the operational preparedness of the troops deployed in the state.
3. IAF aircraft pressed for quick induction of troops
For rapid induction of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and other paramilitary personnel in Kashmir, the Centre has pressed Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft including the C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift plane into service.
“Day in and day out, the C-17 heavy-lift aircraft along with other planes are being used for transporting troops from different parts of the country,” sources said.
4. But why is the government taking these extra security measures?
A top source said the deployment was to guard against the possible protests about a decision of the government. Several conflicting statements at the top level have added to the confusion.
Inputs have been received by the security and intelligence agencies that after the successful conduct of panchayat elections in the state, terrorist groups have been asked to carry out an attack on forces.
5. Speculations over imminent abrogation of Article 35A
Speculation is rife that the Centre may have plans to do away with Article 35A of the Constitution, which gives exclusive rights to the state’s residents in government jobs and land. These speculations have dominated the discourse in Kashmir over the past few days.
Mainstream political parties such as the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have vowed to resist any such move to tinker with the special status to the state.
On Thursday, a delegation comprising NC chief Farooq Abdullah, former CM Omar Abdullah and a party MP Hasnain Masoodi met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him not to take any step which may lead to deterioration in the law and order situation in the state. They also urged Modi to facilitate holding of assembly election in the state by year-end.
6. What is the government saying?
The Union home ministry on Friday said the deployment was based on the security situation in the state and requirements of rotation, and that such things are not discussed in the public domain.
However, the ministry said there was no additional deployment of troops apart from the 100 companies of central forces.
“Based on the assessment of the internal security situation, training requirements, the need for paramilitary troops to be rotated for rest and recuperation, induction and de-induction of central forces is a continuous and dynamic process,” a source said.
It has never been the practice to discuss in the public domain the details of deployment and movement of paramilitary forces deployed in a particular theatre, they said.
7. Forthcoming assembly polls in the state
The recent infusion of additional troops is also being attributed to the holding of free and fair elections in the state.
The Election Commission had said that it would decide on the dates of the assembly elections in the state after the Amarnath Yatra ends on August 15.