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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Concerns over organised mass protests, possible attacks in Valley

The communication blackout, which has caused a great deal of resentment in the local population, has also helped prevent the organisation of protests across the Kashmir Valley, people familiar with developments said.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2019 16:41 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran and Rezaul H Laskar
Smriti Kak Ramachandran and Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
CRPF personnel stand guard in front of closed shops in Srinagar on Thursday. (ANI Photo)
CRPF personnel stand guard in front of closed shops in Srinagar on Thursday. (ANI Photo)
         

Organised mass protests and possible attacks by Pakistan-based terror groups are among the main concerns weighing on the minds of officials responsible for security in Jammu and Kashmir.

The communication blackout, which has caused a great deal of resentment in the local population, has also helped prevent the organisation of protests across the Kashmir Valley, people familiar with developments said.

“We are aware of the situation caused by the snapping of phone lines and the Internet and these are being gradually eased in parts of Srinagar. More restrictions will be removed in the time to come,” said a person who declined to be identified.

The people cited above pointed to the potential damage that could be caused by even one message that could be forwarded on messaging apps by elements intent on taking advantage of the existing situation.

The focus of security agencies has been on minimising casualties and possible violent protests that could lead to confrontations, the people said.

 

So far, the only death reported has been of a teenager who drowned in river Jhelum on August 5 while trying to evade paramilitary troopers, though there are reports that close to 100 people have been injured.

On Thursday, there were reports that pamphlets urging people to march towards the office of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) had been distributed in the hot spot of Soura. Hindustan Times couldn’t independently verify the reports.

The army also distributed pamphlets across the Kashmir Valley highlighting the benefits of the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35a of the Constitution.

Security agencies are also keeping an eye on all moves made by Islamabad’s military establishment and Pakistan-based terror groups, with the people pointing to the Jaish-e-Mohammed as the biggest concern.

“The Pakistani side did take some steps – for whatever reasons, including pressure from the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] – such as shutting down camps and cutting off financing. But none of this is irreversible,” said the first person cited above.

“More than the other groups, it is the Jaish-e-Mohammed that is the most active,” the person added.

Over the past few years, the number of terrorists being pushed across the Line of Control (LoC) has been an average of about 300 a year, the people said. Though the armed forces have been able to neutralise a number of these terrorists during infiltration attempts, others have managed to get through to the Kashmir Valley, they said.

Though Pakistan has taken steps to control the activities of terror groups and there continues to be pressure on the country from the international community -- a crucial meeting of the FATF in Paris in October will decide whether Pakistan is to be placed on a blacklist for failing to counter terror financing – there continue to be concerns that Islamabad could again open the jihadi tap, the people said.

First Published: Aug 23, 2019 00:26 IST