The former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir – Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been placed under house arrest and imposed curfew-like restrictions in the region. Internet services and mobile services were suspended in several places and all public gatherings were banned in Srinagar district as section 144 was imposed.
“There shall be no movement of the public. All educational institutions shall also remain closed. There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order. Identity cards of essential services officials will be treated as movement passes wherever required,” reads the Indian government order, but says “there is no curfew in place”.
According to Greater Kashmir, authorities also suspended internet services on mobiles, a common tactic to prevent demonstrations from being organised and stop the dissemination of news.
Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to say that he was being placed under house arrest and that a similar process had already started for other leaders.
“I believe I’m being placed under house arrest from midnight tonight and 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,” he wrote on Twitter. “Please don’t take the law into your own hands, please stay calm,” he appealed in another tweet.
A few moments before his tweet, Mehbooba Mufti, president of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party, expressed concerns that there would soon be an internet blackout and the imposition of a curfew.
“Hearing reports about the 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,” she said.
“How ironic that elected representatives like us who fought for peace are under house arrest. The world watches as people and their voices are being muzzled in J&K. The same Kashmir that chose a secular democratic India is facing oppression of unimaginable magnitude. Wake up India,” she said in another tweet.
Farooq Abdullah, reading out a resolution adopted at a meeting of regional parties, said they have decided to send delegations to meet the president, the prime minister and leaders of various political parties to notify them of the consequences of any attempt to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35A.
Meanwhile, Shashi Tharoor responded to Abdullah’s tweet by saying:
“You are not alone. Every Indian democrat will stand with the decent mainstream leaders in Kashmir as you face up to whatever the government has in store for our country. Parliament is still in session and our voices will not be stilled.” In another tweet, he asked, “why would leaders be arrested overnight while having done no wrong?”
Veteran actor Anupam Khan who is originally a Kashmir Pandit tweeted: The solution to Kashmir has started. Kher, whose wife Kirron Kher is a BJP MP, is known to be a big supporter of PM Narendra Modi and has time and again voiced support for several of the BJP government’s decisions.
Earlier, panic gripped the Kashmir valley after India deployed additional 25,000 soldiers in the Kashmir valley in addition to the 10,000 security forces, which the officials termed as a move to strengthen the counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir and maintaining overall security.
Rumours are spreading in the Kashmir Valley that India could be heading towards a complete abrogation of Article 35-A. Some have even speculated that the matter could be a part of PM Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address at the Red Fort.