Following the chaos and panic which has been triggered in Kashmir since Friday, August 2, after massive additional troops deployment and a slew of orders to vacate, Section 144 has been imposed in Kashmir and in a few parts of Jammu as well. Cellular and internet services have been barred and key political leaders have been placed under house arrest on the intervening night of August 4-5. Among these are former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, and key Congress and CPI(M) leaders, as per reports.
Soon after the government tightened restrictions around former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, the vice-president of National Conference (NC) 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.”
Tension in the valley increased after the government moved 35,000 additional forces to the valley and asked all the tourists and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to leave the state as early as they can, in an unprecedented move.
Since Friday, the wave of rumours intensified in the valley about the abrogation of Article 35A and 370, forcing people to start stocking up ration, medicines, fuel and all other necessary items.
Haseena Habib, a resident of Khan Sahab in Central Kashmir's Budgam district, who travelled 31 kilometres to Srinagar to buy the required items, said that people have been saying prolonged day and night curfew would be imposed in Kashmir. So she decided to spend the amount which she had saved to buy a sheep for the festival of Eid Ul Adha (August 12) for stocking necessary goods for her family.
“My and I daughter decided to come to Srinagar to buy all the food items and medicines for my husband who is suffering from severe cardiac and lung problems,” she said.
She further said that she heard rumours that there would be a war between India and Pakistan, so this was a preparation to survive in the war. “It is an attempt to save our lives, as bullets and bombs will soon tear our bodies,” she told NewsClick.
On Sunday morning, forces who were being transported in commercial as well as armed vehicles, were stationed in colleges.
The gates of several colleges were shut to the students of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) who came to attend their classes which are usually scheduled on Sunday.
Many students at Amar Singh College, one of the oldest colleges located in the heart of the city, were not allowed to go inside.
Rohila Jaan a 21-year-old girl who travels every Sunday from Heff Shirmal in South Kashmir’s Shopian district to attend her class at Amar Singh College, faced a CRPF man instead of the college’s gatekeeper who told her that they aren’t allowed to go inside and he shut the door on her face.
While talking to the NewsClick, Rohila said that there were no notifications regarding the suspension of the class. “I travelled from Shopian which is almost 56 kilometres away, and the college gates are closed to me but opened to the forces. "This is really unacceptable. As we know that India is trying to tighten their grip of suppression in Kashmir but targeting students will take them nowhere,” she said.
As per the sources, all educational institutions are closed and no political or public activity will be allowed in the disputed region. Meanwhile, all examinations have been postponed.
As per the official sources, politicians who are being placed under house arrest include former chief minister and president of Peoples’ Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti, Congress leader Usman Majid and J&K secretary of Communist Party of India (Marxist) M.Y Tarigami.
According to a PTI report, the government has imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Srinagar, which prohibits the assembly of more than four people at a time. The authorities have also imposed night curfew in Kishtwar, Rajouri districts and Banihal area of Ramban district.
After the news of the situation and the house arrest of political leaders spread, Omar Abdullah’s tweet received massive responses. Shashi Tharoor, who is currently serving as Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, tweeted, “You are not alone @OmarAbdullah. 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 & our voices will not be stilled. @INCIndia"
The spike in tension comes ahead of Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to the valley and after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s two-day visit to the valley, following which troop strength was increased in the Valley and there was a security clampdown, with the Army announcing a ‘terror’ threat to the Amarnath Yatra.