Terror fears in Kashmir despite claim of normalcy - GulfToday

Terror fears in Kashmir despite claim of normalcy

Kashmir

A member of the Indian security forces stands guard during a lockdown in Srinagar. Agence France-Presse

Resmi Sivaram

India has put its army, navy and air force on high alert in Jammu and Kashmir after receiving input on possible terror attacks, officials at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed.

Hundreds of protesters clashed with police Friday as the UN Security Council began its first meeting on the territory in nearly half a century, with tensions soaring over New Delhi’s move to strip the disputed region of its autonomy.

Police fired tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns to disperse residents who tried to march down the main road in the main city of Srinagar after Friday prayers.

Protesters hurled stones and used shop hoardings and tin sheets as improvised shields, as police shot dozens of rounds into the crowd. No injuries were reported.

Government offices are back to normal work, the state’s Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam announced at a media interaction on Friday, and assured that schools will reopen on Monday. Besides, telephone lines will be restored.

Subrahmanyam said there has been no loss of life or major injury since restrictions were imposed on August 5. He said the administration appreciates the fact that the co-operation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is critical in helping maintain peace and public order.

“Focus is that, at the earliest, normalcy returns while ensuring that terrorist forces are given no opportunity to wreak havoc as in the past,” he said.

“Twelve out of 22 districts are functioning normally with some limited restrictions in 5 districts. The measures put in place has ensured that there has not been a single loss of life,” Subrahmanyam said.

“Telecom connectivity will gradually be erased and restored in a phase-wise manner keeping in mind constant threat posed by terrorist’s organisations in using mobile connectivity to organise terror actions.

Prevention detention are being continuously reviewed and an appropriate decision would be made based on law and order situation.

“In implementing the decision taken last fortnight, cross-border terrorism required the government to put in place certain preventing steps. An important factor was credible inputs that such organisations were planning to undertake strikes in Jammu and Kashmir in immediate future. “Steps consequently taken included restrictions on free movement and telecom connectivity prevention of large gathering, closure of schools and colleges. A few preventive detentions of individuals were also made in accordance with provisions of law to maintain law and order,” he said.

Since August 5, when the Parliament passed a resolution to revoke Article 370 and a bill to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories, the Valley has been under an immense security cover with restrictions imposed across the militancy-hit state. Several mainstream political leaders, including former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, were arrested as a part of the security clampdown.

On Friday, the Centre told the Supreme Court that restrictions in Kashmir will be removed over the next few days.

Responding to a plea seeking removal of restrictions on the media in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of abrogation of Article 370, the Centre told the apex court that the situation is improving in Jammu and Kashmir and the curbs are being lifted gradually.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S A Bobde and S A Najeer said, “We would like to give little time. We have read in newspaper today that landline and broadband connections are being restored gradually. Therefore, we will take up the petition with other connected matters. We also got a call today from CJ of J-K HC.” “We will see when the matter can be listed for hearing. We will fix a date on the administrative side,” the bench said.

India, meanwhile, suspended the weekly Jodhpur-Munabao Thar Link Express. The train which was scheduled to depart from Bhagat ki Koti near Jodhpur for the village of Munabao on the Indo-Pak border was cancelled on Friday.

The suspension is indefinite. It is understood that some 50 people had booked tickets for Friday’s journey.