Article 370 withdrawal anniversary | Kashmir under security blanket

A meeting of all regional parties, called by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, could not take place.

Updated - August 05, 2020 11:32 pm IST

Published - August 05, 2020 01:37 pm IST - Srinagar:

A view of deserted street during lockdown in Srinagar, August 3, 2020.

A view of deserted street during lockdown in Srinagar, August 3, 2020.

Security was tightened across the Kashmir Valley on Wednesday to foil a scheduled meeting and protest marches by the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the first anniversary of the withdrawal of J&K’s special status .

NC president and Member of Parliament Farooq Abdullah had called a meeting of all regional parties on Wednesday at his residence on Gupkar Road “to chalk out the future course of action”. The move apparently was to carry forward the Gupkar Declaration signed on August 4, 2019, by the regional parties, which called for “a joint front to defend J&K’s special status”.

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However, security was beefed up on the Gupkar Road, housing Dr. Abdullah’s residence, and barricades put up. “Police vehicles are opposite our gates, concertina wire strung across the road at regular intervals and no vehicles allowed. My father had called a meeting of leaders of mainstream parties to deliberate on the current situation,” said NC vice-president Omar Abdullah.

He said the scheduled meeting was not allowed to go ahead. “The BJP gets to announce a 15-day celebration to mark 5th Aug and a handful of us aren’t allowed to meet on my father’s lawn. So much for BJP national leaders wondering why there is no political activity,” Mr. Abdullah tweeted.

Sources said all those who were supposed to attend the meeting had been placed under house arrest.

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“The government claimed that a political process has started in Kashmir, but not a single leader was allowed to reach my residence,” Dr. Abdullah told reporters in Srinagar.

Leaders of the PDP, the Peoples Conference, the J&K Peoples Movement, the Awami National Conference, the CPI(M) and the Congress were invited by Dr. Abdullah for the meeting.

Dozens of PDP leaders, including former legislator Firdous Tak from Kishtwar, were taken into preventive custody. The PDP had asked its members to observe the day as ‘black day’ and organise protests.

“A year ago we witnessed how a majoritarian government mutilated and robbed J&K in broad daylight. Seasons may have changed but the betrayal will never be forgiven or forgotten. Prolonged enforced silence won’t suppress emotions forever,” tweeted Iltija Mufti, daughter of incarcerated PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

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CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said the police did not allow him to leave his house. “Locks on gates, lockdowns as celebrations and lies as defences has been the hallmark of last year,” Mr. Tarigami said.

Meanwhile, BJP workers unfurled the Tricolour in many parts of the Valley on the occasion and organised functions. “Abrogation of Article 370 provisions brought about many positive changes. Those who are observing it as ‘black day’ are ISIS supporters,” BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur said.

Despite the Srinagar administration lifting curfew from the capital, locals alleged no movement of people was being allowed and all main roads had been blocked with razor wires and barricades.

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“This morning while taking my mother to a doctor, our car was stopped at the Hyderpora checkpoint. We were asked to show the medical prescription (before being allowed to move),” Arjimand Hussain Talib, a known newspaper columnist, said.

Locals also alleged that the security forces chased them when they ventured out in the morning to buy essentials in the old city.

Militant attack in Shopian

Meanwhile, militants attacked the security forces in Shopian with a grenade.

The grenade attack took place at Bon Bazar area of Shopian in south Kashmir. “There were no loss of life or injuries in the attack,” an official said.

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