A Kashmiri man carries a child on his shoulders in a closed market area in Srinagar on Saturday. Associated Press
Some 2,000 to 4,000 people, including leaders and workers of mainstream political parties, have been reportedly arrested in Kashmir since the scrapping of Article 370 that granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The administration says the decisions about arrests are taken at the local level. “We are facing situations of cross-border terrorism as well as of public order, and to maintain law and order the local authorities are taking the necessary steps, which may include detentions and arrests. But what is important to note that these are law enforcement decisions taken at the local level,” said government spokesperson Rohit Kansal.
Bashir Ahmad’s family in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipore district is in a shock. His 21-year-old son Aadil Ahmad Mir, who has an arm disability, was arrested from his home on the night of August 7 on charges of stone pelting and slapped with a case under the Public Safety Act.
Aadil is a worker of Usman Majeed, a former militant-turned-politician. Majeed, a Congress leader and a former state minister from Bandipore, has also been under house arrest since the same time. Sources close to Majeed say seven of his workers were arrested, though two have been released.
“We have approached the High Court. Our lawyer has attached his disability certificate with our petition. There is no justification for his arrest,” said Bashir Ahmad.
But he is not alone. A little distance away another family is grieving after their son was taken away. Mohammad Kamal Ahangar’s family alleges that last week the Army came knocking at their door. They were looking for his son Shahid Ahangar, a National Conference supporter. Not finding him home, they arrested his brother Gowhar Ahangar, who is a driver.
Shahid was earlier arrested during the Kashmir unrest of 2010. “Militants were after us during the elections and now we are being chased by the security forces,” said Mohammad Iqbal Ahangar, Shahid’s brother.
Irfan Ahmad Lone, 30, has been making daily appearances since the past 10 days at a local police station at Khrew in Pulwama district of south Kashmir. Irfan says he was booked in a case of stone pelting on security forces in 2016, but released under an amnesty scheme for stone pelters announced by the PDP-BJP-led Mehbooba Mufti government.
According to Lone, his association with the National Conference is the reason for the fresh police action against him. Lone is an office assistant of Justice Hasnain Masoodi, National Conference MP from Anantnag constituency.
“I was asked by the police to come to the police station. I said ‘no problem, don’t come to my home looking for me, I will present myself’. And I went to the police station.
I told them that I have been given amnesty in the old stone pelting case of 2016,” said Lone.
Terrorist groups have threatened locals in the Kashmir valley against opening shops and schools through posters put up in various areas, the Army said.
Women have also been threatened against going out through these posters.
The terror threats came after the Parliament, earlier this month, withdrew the special category status to Jammu and Kashmir by reading down Article 370 of the Constitution and divided the state into two Union territories. The Valley has been under unprecedented security cover ever since Aug.5, with most areas still without any communication lines.
Posters belonging to terror outfits Hizbul Mujaheedin and Lashker-e-Taiba have been recovered, army officials said.
In a poster of Hizbul Mujaheedin recovered from Kulgam district, locals have been warned against plying their private vehicles on roads, the army said.
“We have registration numbers of certain private vehicles that are still plying on the roads and we issue a final warning to their owners. No schools should be opened. No woman should be seen on the road. Keep your womenfolk inside your houses,” says one of the posters.
According to officials, traders have been warned by terrorists particularly in the last two weeks of August from carrying out business.
Officials said that on Aug.21, three terrorists had threatened traders in the Aishmuqam market in Anantnag against opening their shops. On the same day, four terrorists had threatened traders in Pulawama district against sending fruit outside Kashmir.
Indo-Asian News Service