February 2019 News

Valley Of Fear: Here's How Article 35A Keeps Kashmir On Edge

25 February 2019
India Today

Srinagar: Tensions have escalated in Kashmir Valley in the last two days after the government launched a crackdown on separatists and detained over 200 people, mainly from the Jamaat-e-Islami, ahead of a hearing in the Supreme Court on Article 35A of the Constitution. The hearing on Article 35A, which provides special rights and privileges to natives of Jammu and Kashmir, is likely to take place in the apex court on Tuesday. Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir remain divided on the issue of continuing with the state's special status. While the BJP is in favour of scrapping Article 35A, J&K National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party have opposed the move. The deployment of around 10,000 additional troops in Kashmir after the Pulwama terror attack, in which over 40 CRPF soldiers were killed, has also added to the fears of people about a possible confrontation between India and Pakistan. Here's how an overnight crackdown, deployment of 10,000 additional troops has kept Kashmir on the edge. SEPARATISTS CALL FOR SHUTDOWN AGAINST ARRESTS: Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik and head of Jamaate-Islami Abdul Hamid Fayaz were arrested in a late night raid on Friday. Around 200 others were also rounded up. On Saturday, the separatists, under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), called for the shutdown. 'In protest of these arbitrary arrests, nocturnal raids, insecurity among people and censorship and any tempering with Article 35A, a protest strike will be observed on Sunday,' said a statement by the group. Much of Kashmir Valley was shut on Sunday in response to the call. The arrests have come in the backdrop of the Union home ministry orders to move reinforcements to Kashmir. The development, coupled with other administrative measures, prompted people in Jammu and Kashmir to stock up on groceries and essentials and buy petrol for their vehicles. NORMALCY HIT : Normal life was hit across the Kashmir Valley as shops and business establishments remained closed on Sunday. Public transport was also off the roads. High-speed internet has been reduced to 2G and train services from Banihal to Baramulla suspended as precautionary measures. People were seen rushing to petrol pumps and grocery shops to stock up. The authorities imposed restrictions on the movement of people under Section 144 in five police station areas of Srinagar including Rainwaari, Nowhatta, Khanyar, MR Gunj and Safakadal, said a government official. DON'T PAY HEED TO RUMOURS: J&K GOVERNMENTL : The government on Sunday said all measures were being taken as a part of elections exercise. 'All kinds of rumours are being spread, there is no truth to them,' said Rohit Kansal, a government spokesperson. The Jammu and Kashmir administration also appealed to the people of the state to stay calm and not pay heed to rumours. 'During the past few days all kinds of rumours are in circulation and panic messages are being disseminated. We urge people not to pay heed to rumours and get panicky on the basis of unsubstantiated and exaggerated pieces of information which are in circulation,' said Rohit Kansal, chief spokesperson of the governor's administration. Regarding deployment of additional troops, he said the additional forces have been called for election purpose. MEHBOOBA WRANS AGAINST TINKERING WITH ARTICLE 35A: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti said any tinkering with Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution will render null and void the state's Instrument of Accession with India. 'Article 370 is the constitutional connection between Jammu & Kashmir and the Indian Union. Instrument of accession is contingent on Article 370 which is inextricably linked to Article 35A. Any tampering will render Treaty of Accession null and void,' Mehbooba said in a series of tweets. She said Kashmir Valley is rife with speculation about the status of Article 35A. 'Before taking a decision, Government of India must consider that J&K was the only Muslim-majority state that chose a secular India over Pakistan during partition,' she added. Mehbooba cautioned that Kashmiris should not be blamed for the developments if the special provision was scrapped. 'Those frothing at the mouth and calling for its removal shouldn't blame Kashmiris for the developments that will follow such a hare-brained decision,' she said. NO CHANGE IN STANCE AFTER PULWAMA ATACK: GOVT: In its attempt to dispel fears that the government may be inclined to repeal the article in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday said only an elected government would be able to take a stand on Article 35A before the Supreme Court. 'The stand of the state government on the request of deferment of hearing on Article 35A in the Supreme Court remains the same as requested by them on February 11,' senior bureaucrat Rohit Kansal had said. Rohit Kansal has been designated as the chief spokesperson of the governor's administration.