An uneasy calm enveloped the Kashmir Valley on Sunday as additional security forces occupied civilian installations and police stations and were put on “standby mode.”
National Conference (NC) president Dr. Farooq Abdullah chaired an all-party meeting in Srinagar and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi “not to revoke J&K’s special status.”
The security build-up took a final shape on Sunday, a top police official said on the condition of anonymity.
In a rare step, a red alert was sounded for officials of the otherwise peaceful district of Kargil in the Ladakh region.
A security alert was already sounded across J&K, including Jammu region’s Pir Panjal and Chenab valleys. All the leave of government employees and scheduled examinations were cancelled, an official said.
Several colleges, factories and hostels were vacated and occupied by additional troops in the Valley. Hospitals were put on an emergency mode, said a senior official on the condition of anonymity. Dozens of mobile bullet proof bunkers were installed across the Valley.
Meanwhile, special cell phones and satellite sets were distributed among the top officials, including police, in the State.
Scores of political workers of the mainstream parties in south Kashmir were summoned to the police stations, a spokesman of J&K Peoples Movement said.
The J&K Cricket Association also evacuated cricketer Irfan Pathan, who coaches local players, and around 100 players to Jammu. Hundreds of students of the National Institute of Technology and the Institute of Hotel Management were provided buses to leave the valley, officials of these institutes said.
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 ‘Gupkar Declaration.’
The leaders unanimously sought an audience with the President and Prime Minister of India and the leaders of other political parties “to apprise them of the situation and make an appeal to safeguard legitimate interests of the people of the State with regard to guarantees given by the Constitution of our country.”
Dr. Abdullah also appealed to both India and Pakistan not to take any step that could aggravate the tension between the two countries.
The all-party meet was attended by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, Peoples Conference leader Imran Ansari, Congress leader Taj Mohiuddin and J&K Peoples Movement chief Shah Faesal among others.
Later, Ms. Mufti took out a candlelight march. “There is urgent need for the Centre to allay fears in the Valley and reach out to the people. J&K’s special identity is a matter of right and not privilege,” she said.