An uneasy calm enveloped the Kashmir Valley on Sunday as additional security forces occupied civilian installations and police stations and were put in “standby mode.”
Late in the night, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti were placed under house arrest. Congress leader Usman Majid and CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami also said they were being detained.
Section 144 Cr.PC was imposed in Srinagar district from midnight and will remain in force till further orders. “There shall be no movement of the public. All educational institutions shall remain closed. There will be a complete bar on any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order. Identity cards of essential services officials will be treated as movement passes wherever required,” read the order.
However, there is no curfew in place, it added. In Jammu, the authorities said all schools, colleges and academic institutions, both private and government, were advised to remain closed as a measure of caution.
In a phased manner, mobile Internet services were snapped in all districts of the Kashmir Valley.
Mr. Abdullah said he was placed under house arrest in Srinagar. “The process has already started for other mainstream leaders. No way of knowing if this is true but if it is then I'll see all of you on the other side of whatever is in store. Allah save us,” he tweeted.
Ms. Mufti said, “In such difficult times, I’d like to assure our people that come what may, we are in this together and will fight it out. Nothing should break our resolve to strive for what’s rightfully ours.”
Mr. Omar Abdullah and Ms. Mufti earlier in the day had warned the Centre against abrogation of Article 35A and Article 370, which gives special status to J&K.
There is no official word on the arrests by the Governor’s administration.
Earlier in the day National Conference (NC) president Dr. Farooq Abdullah chaired an all-party meeting in Srinagar and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi “not to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.”
Dr. Abdullah said all parties resolved to be united in “protecting the identity, autonomy and special rights of J&K.”
“Modification or abrogation of Article 35A or Article 370 would be aggression against the people of J&K,” read the joint statement called the ‘Gupkar Declaration.’
Meanwhile the security build-up took a final shape on Sunday, a top police official said on the condition of anonymity.
Several colleges, factories and hostels were vacated and occupied by additional troops in the Valley.
Hospitals were put in emergency mode, said a senior official on the condition of anonymity. Dozens of mobile bullet-proof bunkers were installed across the Valley.