Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Sajad Lone – the three most prominent politicians from Jammu and Kashmir – were placed under house arrest late Sunday. Mobile internet has been blocked in many places and public meetings or rallies have been banned. The moves come at a time when the state has plunged into uncertainty amid a massive security build-up and government advisory asking pilgrims and tourists to leave Kashmir immediately. The developments have triggered intense speculation about plans to modify the special status granted to the state under the constitution – a highly emotive issue linked to the rights of its residents.
Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
- “There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order. It should be noted that there will be no curfew in place as reported in a section of the media,” the Jammu and Kashmir government said.
- “How ironic that elected representatives like us who fought for peace are under house arrest. The world watches as people & their voices are being muzzled in J&K,” Mehbooba Mufti tweeted. Omar Abdullah wrote: “I’ll see all of you on the other side of whatever is in store. Allah save us.”
- Earlier in the day, Ms Mufti, Mr Abdullah and leaders from all political parties from the state held a meeting and issued a resolution, warning the government of “consequences” if it changed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Kashmir remained on edge on Sunday as authorities stepped up security deployment at vital installations and sensitive areas and enforced curfew-like restrictions citing heightened terror threat and a flare up of hostilities with Pakistan along the Line of Control.
- Mobile internet services were suspended in many areas across the Kashmir valley as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order, police said. Schools and colleges have been shut down and various educational institutions directed their students to vacate hostels.
- In Delhi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with top security and intelligence officials. The hour-long meeting was attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other senior officials. The Union Cabinet is scheduled to meet on Monday at 9:30 am at the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.
- The uncertainty had spiked on Friday with Jammu and Kashmir administration scrapping the Amarnath Yatra and asking pilgrims and tourists to leave the valley at the earliest. The order made anxious residents throng markets to stock on essentials and serpentine queues have been visible outside shops and fuel stations.
- Additional paramilitary forces – as many as 35,000 – which were flown in last week, have been deployed across Srinagar and in other sensitive areas of Kashmir Valley, officials said.
- Barricades have been erected on many arterial roads, including the entry and exit points to Srinagar. Riot control vehicles have also been kept on standby in some areas where there are apprehensions of unrest, the officials added.
- The dramatic security clampdown stoked fears that the centre may have plans to modify or do away with Article 35A of the constitution, which gives exclusive rights to the state’s residents in government jobs and land, or Article 370 which gives autonomous status to the state.