Omar meets Governor Malik; parties take stock of situation in the Valley
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah met Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik on Saturday and urged the central government to clear the air about what was going on in the Valley.Updated: Aug 04, 2019, 03:26 IST
A day after the state government issued an advisory asking tourists and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to curtail their stay in the Valley with immediate effect citing intelligence reports of terror threats, National Conference vice president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah met Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik on Saturday and urged the central government to clear the air about what was going on in the Valley. The governor also released a statement saying the security situation in Kashmir had developed in a manner that required immediate action.
“We met him to know what is happening in Kashmir. The Governor Satya Pal Malik reiterated yesterday’s assurance. We asked governor about 35A, 370 [which offers special status to J&K] delimitation and trifurcation of the state. He (governor) assured that there is no forward movement on these issues. To assuage people, the Governor is going to issue a statement,’’ Abdullah said after he, and other senior NC leaders met the governor in Raj Bhawan.
The state government — currently under President’s rule — had issued an order on August 2 stating that based on “intelligence inputs of terror threats, with specific targeting of the Amarnath Yatra”, “it is advised that tourists and Amarnath Yatris curtail their stay in the valley and take necessary measures to return as soon as possible.”
“There were credible inputs which were available to the security agencies regarding terrorist attacks on the Amarnath Yatra. There has been intensified shelling on the LOC [Line of Control] by Pakistan which was responded to effectively by the Army. The seriousness of the threat required immediate action,’’ Governor Malik’s statement on Saturday said.
It was in this context that the government had issued the advisory asking pilgrims and tourists to return as soon as possible, the statement added.
“These are a vulnerable group of people who do not know the area and are extremely vulnerable to a terrorist or a fidayeen attack. It is the responsibility of the state to provide security to all its citizens. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, Yatris and tourists have been asked to return. This is to ensure that no terrorist attack takes place on them. Therefore, security to its citizens has to be provided by the State, even at some inconvenience which is being done,’’ the governor’s statement added.
Governor Malik told the NC delegation that the state has no knowledge of any changes to constitutional provisions. “Therefore, no panic should be created by unnecessarily linking this security matter with all kinds of other issues. A pure security measure is being mixed up with issues with which it has no connection. That is the cause of the panic. The Home Secretary and the Divisional Commissioner have clarified this yesterday,” the statement said.
There has been speculation that Article 35A, which reserves property ownership and government jobs for permanent residents of Kashmir, may be repealed.
In what was a day of multiple political reactions, the Congress and the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held press conferences, while People’s Democratic Party president and former CM Mehbooba Mufti chaired a meeting of top party leadership.
Mufti told gathered media that workers of all political parties should “come together so that a message can be given to Centre that they can’t toy with J&K’s special position.Recent developments in J&K have created fear among people and it’s unfortunate that Centre isn’t issuing a clear statement.”
She also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that no unilateral decision is taken at any level that impinges upon the current constitutional arrangement in the state.
Abdullah said the NC will demand a statement from the Centre in parliament on Monday, “so that we can understand what was the need of yesterday’s order and why yatris were asked to leave.’’
“We don’t want silence from the government of India. It’s not in their interest to have a restive Jammu and Kashmir,’’ Abdullah said, adding that promises made to the people of Kashmir at the time of its accession to India were not time bound, in a reference to Article 35A.
The Congress too, raised the demand for a statement to be issued by the Centre. The principal Opposition party’s policy planning group on Jammu and Kashmir met under the chairmanship of former prime minister Manmohan Singh. “The Group also discussed the widespread fear and apprehension in the minds of the people across the State of J&K about government’s intentions of abolishing Articles 35A and 370. They reiterated the considered policy of the Congress Party and asked the Government to maintain the constitutional guarantees given to the State of Jammu & Kashmir,” a statement issued by the group said.
Addressing media at the Congress office in New Delhi, senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Amarnath Yatra has never been curtailed, even when the pilgrimage was targeted by terrorists. “The Prime Minister should make statements in both houses of Parliament on current situation in Jammu and Kashmir. It’s his duty,” Azad said.
Meanwhile, the BJP’s state unit on Saturday accused leaders of the NC, PDP and the Congress of deliberately trying to trigger panic. “Some politicians in the valley are knocking the door of the Governor (Satya Pal Malik) in the dead of night because they are frightened,” party’s state unit president Ravinder Raina said, after chairing a core group meeting of the BJP in Srinagar.
On Friday night, People’s Democratic Party president and former CM Mehbooba Mufti, along with People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone, his party colleague Imran Reza Ansari and civil servant-turned-politician Shah Faesal had also met the governor to apprise him about the panic prevailing in the Valley following the government advisory.
Abdullah said on Saturday that NC party leaders had met Modi shortly before the advisory was issued, and the PM had assured them that he wanted elections in the state.
“After that meeting, I was not expecting that an order of such nature will be issued within 24 hours,’’ Abdullah said, adding that during the meeting with the PM, the delegation received no indication that there was any threat to the Amarnath yatra.
Reacting to reports that the BJP had issued a whip to its MPs asking them to be present in Parliament from August 5 to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Abdullah said that he had no information about that, but that the NC members of parliament will move a “calling attention” notice on Monday in the parliament. “I have directed my MPs to remain present,” he said.
However, NC president Farooq Abdullah, will not be there on Monday due to ill-health.