More troops airlifted to Kashmir, activists held

first_imgFresh mobilisation of troops and arrest of around 30 Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) members and JKLF chief Yasin Malik in late-night raids triggered tension and hysteria in Kashmir on Saturday, with people lining up outside petrol pumps, ATMs and grocery shops.The clampdown on separatists started on Friday night when JKLF chief Yasin Malik was arrested and shifted to a police station around 11 p.m.Later, in multiple raids, the police rounded up 30 members of the socio-religious group JeI, including its chief Dr. Abdul Hamid Fayaz, spokesman Zahid Ali, former secretary general Ghulam Qadir Lone and Anantnag head Abdur Rouf. However, a JeI spokesman, on the condition of anonymity, said around 150 members were rounded up in the crackdown.100 CAPF companiesA police statement said the move was made ahead of the arrival of an Election Commission team in Kashmir on March 5 “to assess the situation and to take a call on holding polls”. “We took some measures to ensure peaceful elections,” said the police.The multiple raids also coincided with the airlifting of 100 additional companies of security forces to J&K — including 45 companies of CRPF, 35 of the Border Security Force, 20 of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and 10 of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).An official said the BSF and the ITBP will replace “static security forces” manning the streets and stationed in bunkers and the CRPF personnel will be on a standby for handling any law and order situation.A government order on Friday also cancelled the leave of all officials in the State. Many scheduled government functions have been postponed.The developments sparked a wave of chaos and uncertainty in the Kashmir valley. Petrol pumps, grocery shops and ATMs witnessed unprecedented rush.“Article 35A is coming up for hearing in the Supreme Court and unscheduled troops mobilisation has taken place. We cannot ignore these developments. We have stocked up essentials to meet any eventuality,” said Nazeer Ahmad, a trader at Polo View.Many parts of the Valley witnessed a spontaneous shutdown and violent clashes. .“People in the Valley, especially the cities and towns, are taking everything said or done as a sign that some big trouble is just around the corner. People are hoarding food and fuel. Some government orders are adding to the sense of panic,” said former chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah.Meanwhile, the separatist grouping Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, termed the arrests as “arbitrary”.“We strongly condemn this dictatorial policy of cracking the whip and arbitrary arrests. Article 35A is linked to our very existence and connected to the Kashmir dispute. We will oppose any move to dilute it,” Mr. Geelani and the Mirwaiz said in a joint statement, calling for a shutdown on Sunday against the detentions.The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peoples Conference and CPI(M) also opposed the government crackdown on activists. “I fail to understand such an arbitrary move which will only precipitate matters in J&K. Under what legal grounds are their arrests justified? You can imprison a person but not his ideas,” said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.“Largescale arrests took place in 1990. Leaders were ferried to Jodhpur and many jails across the country. Things worsened. This is a tried, tested and failed model. Please desist from it. It won’t work. Things will worsen,” said PC chief Sajad Lone.CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said the crackdown and arrests “without any solid legal grounds do not augur well”. “It just exacerbates the anger and gives rise to further uncertainty,” he said.last_img