NSA Ajit Doval reviews security arrangements, discusses measures to ease restrictions in Kashmir

NSA Ajit Doval holds meetings in Srinagar on eve of Modi’s UNGA address

Updated - September 26, 2019 10:40 pm IST

Published - September 26, 2019 07:42 pm IST - Srinagar/New Delhi

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval is camping in Srinagar ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday.

For the past week, security officials have been making arrangements to ensure no violence is reported in Kashmir in the wake of the high-profile event as it might affect India’s image globally. Mr. Doval did not accompany Mr. Modi unlike on other occasions when he was a regular part of his entourage.

The NSA held a series of meetings in Srinagar on Thursday where he reviewed the security arrangements and discussed “measures to ease restrictions further.”

An official spokesman said Mr. Doval appreciated that no complaints regarding the human rights violations were reported from any part of Kashmir Valley during the past over a month and a half.

Official sources privy to the meetings said the NSA, on his second visit to J&K since its special status was revoked, sought “facts and figures on the several aspects of the Union Territory”. It included ground reports on the law and order situation, militancy and infiltration graph, shutdown in the Valley and status of educational institutions.

He was also briefed about the undercurrents of discontent, fuelled further by fears of losing land and jobs in the Union Territory. The phased restoration of mobile telephony was also discussed and a decision would be announced soon, the officials said.

Sources said the NSA was apprised of fresh infiltration bids across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, especially in Kupwara and Bandipora’s Gurez area, in the past three days.

On militant outfits indulging in various atrocities on the people and threatening and intimidation to fruit growers, the NSA directed all the concerned departments and agencies “to take strict action against such elements and facilitate the common masses as much as possible.”

During his interaction with the Army and BSF, the NSA stressed that in view of the reports of large scale infiltration attempts, anti-infiltration grid along the border be kept on high alert. “Wherever attempts of infiltration are reported, strong action must be taken,” Mr. Doval was quoted by the official spokesman as saying.

He urged the security forces to continue the good conduct and maintain peace in the Union Territory. The spokesman said Mr. Doval called upon the para-military forces, police and civil administration “to win the hearts and minds of the people and immediately respond to emergencies and any issues raised by the people.”

Security around a dozen security establishments in Srinagar has been tightened, with fresh inputs on militant movement in the capital city and likely attempts to launch attacks coinciding with the UNGA meet on Friday. Sources said security around the airport was also beefed up. Restrictions on the movement of people are likely to be re-imposed in all sensitive locations in Kashmir valley on Friday.

There was a bid by a group of protesters to march in Srinagar’s Batamaloo area on Thursday. They were seen carrying posters and flags of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK). A police official said the protesters dispersed peacefully.

Communication blockade

Residents in Kashmir Valley hoped that the communication blockade would be lifted after the UNGA address.

Jehan Manzoor, a resident of Pulwama said, “there is a strong buzz here that after Prime Minister Modi addresses the world at UNGA, the mobile phone communications would be restored. We have heard that initially incoming call facilities will be allowed.”

The Valley was put under a lockdown on August 5 when when Home Minister Amit Shah moved two Bills to revoke the special status of J&K under Article 370 and bifurcate and downgrade the State into two Union Territories. The restrictions were eased gradually and large scale movement of vehicles was allowed in Srinagar and adjoining areas. Around 43,000 BSNL landline phones are functional in the Valley. Half the connections are in government offices.

J&K Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh had earlier told The Hindu that the communication blockade was justified due to threats from Pakistan. “Going by what Pakistan and its sponsored agencies are doing, a lot of malicious content is already available,” he said.

Another official said that security had been heightened to prevent any kind of attack on security forces or government buildings.

“There are inputs that Pakistan will try to create some tension ahead of the UNGA meet. We cannot take any chance. Till now no lives have been lost and no major violence has been reported. The restrictions are a necessary evil,” said the official.

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