Kashmir shuts down against ‘arbitrary arrests’, crackdown
Much of Kashmir Valley was shut on Sunday in response to a call by separatists against what they called were “arbitrary arrests” carried out by security agencies.
Nearly 200 people, many of them linked to Jamaat-e-Islami, were arrested on Saturday as part of a crackdown in Kashmirthat coincided with the Union home ministry orders to move reinforcements to Kashmir.
The shutdown came even as Governor Satya Pal Malik appealed to the people not to believe rumours and to remain calm. “These rumours are unnecessarily creating an atmosphere of fear in the minds of people, leading to stress and disruption of normal life,” he said in a statement.
On Saturday night, a few office bearers of another religious organisation Jamiat Ahli Hadees (JAH) were also detained in a raid in south Kashmir.
Markets were deserted, shops closed and traffic movement on the roads of Srinagar and other district headquarters was very thin.
Shops selling medicines and day to day essentials, however, witnessed a rush in some parts as people were stocking up for fear that the situation in Kashmir valley may deteriorate following the arrests and deployment of more troops in Valley.
Authorities have imposed restrictions in major parts of old city and blocked roads using concertina wires and iron barricades to stop any mass public movement or traffic movement in these areas.
A police officer said that the restrictions in several localities were aimed at maintaining peace and tranquility as there were apprehensions of violence.
There were raids in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district late on Saturday evening and at least three members of Jamiat Ahli Hadees were taken into custody, a spokesman of the organisation said.
“Police took away our district president Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri and his deputy Shiraz Ahmad Hajam. Besides member of another faction of Jamiat has also been detained,” said JAH secretary general Abdul Lateef Alkindi.
Police detained Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik and scores of Jamaat-e-Islami members including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, Friday night.
The arrests came as the Centre deployed an additional 100 companies of paramilitary forces in Kashmir valley, just over a week after the Pulwama terror attack killed 40 CRPF troopers in Pulwama.
Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that condemned the arrest of Malik and Jamat-e-Islami cadre and termed it “arbitrary”.
Rumours swirled in Kashmir valley since Friday night prompting people to stock up essential commodities and medicines fearing that the deployment of troops and arrests could be either be “related to revocation of Article 35 A or a possible escalation between India and Pakistan following Pulwama attack”.
The apex court is hearing a bunch of petitions in the matter, including the one filed by NGO ‘We the Citizens’ seeking quashing of Article 35A, which confers special status to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
Later Saturday, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik said people need not panic as troops were being brought to Valley as part of elections as special team of Election Commission is visiting Kashmir in next few days.