Jammu and Kashmir remains under a tight security cover ahead of the final verdict of the Supreme Court on the Centre’s move to dilute Article 370, ending the seven decades of special status, and split the erstwhile State into two Union Territories (UTs) of J&K and Ladakh in 2019.
The administration on Sunday evening deputed 29 civil officials as magistrates in the Srinagar city, “following a communication received from Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Srinagar,” an official communique said. Security agencies apprehend there could be attempts to disturb law and order in Kashmir.
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Several security agencies, including the Border Security Force (BSF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Army, have been alerted and directed to avoid convoy movements on Monday. The security forces, who accompany special protectees, were asked to avoid any movement in sensitive or volatile localities.
Meanwhile, the footprint of the security forces has been increased in Kashmir to carry out frisking and searches of vehicles “to ensure no bid is made to disturb the law and order”.
The police also stepped-up monitoring of content posted online. Several netizens faced legal actions in the past few days for their posts. The Cyber Police Kashmir on Sunday issued a fresh advisory “to use social media platforms responsibly and refrain from sharing rumours, fake news, hate speech or obscene, violent and defamatory content”.
It warned against indulging in “propagation of terrorist and secessionist ideology and false narrative”.
Meanwhile, the streets in Kashmir witnessed a calm on Sunday, a day ahead of the verdict. A majority of residents refused to comment on the issue, while many sought “reversal of what was done on August 5, 2019”.
Ruhullah Mehdi, a senior National Conference leader, said “a socio-political activist Iftikhar Misgar was taken into “preventive” custody for unknown reasons. “This again is the behaviour of the regime which reflects its imperial behaviour. I hope he is released as soon as possible,” Mr. Mehdi said.
The BJP, which had the abrogation of Article 370 as part of its election manifesto, has warned against playing politics on the SC judgment. “Whatever the verdict be, it should be accepted by all. Our workers should not indulge in any celebrations if the verdict is in the Centre’s favour,” BJP leader Ravinder Raina, who chaired a meeting in Srinagar on Sunday, said.
The five-member bench will read out the verdict on Monday on the petitions challenging the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and the restructuring of Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs in August 2019. The petitioners, which include the National Conference (NC), Jammu-Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC), CPI(M) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), contested on the abrogation’s procedure, the concurrence, the consent and the Presidential Order during the hearings held earlier this year.
Several leaders in J&K, including NC’s Omar Abdullah, PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, JKPC’s Sajad Lone, CPI(M)‘s and Democratic Progressive Azad Party’s Ghulam Nabi Azad, hope the SC will not uphold the moves made by the Centre in J&K in 2019.
“I only hope the decision is in our favour. I expect justice. Ours is a legal, constitutional and above all, the shared fight for what’s rightfully ours. And we will strive for it,” Mr. Abdullah said.
PDP president Mufti warned that any decision contrary to the established process “would not only be against the Constitution but also against the very spirit of the idea of India”. “The upcoming verdict is not solely about Article 370 but as a pivotal moment determining the future of India’s identity,” she said.
Ms. Mufti claimed that lists of PDP workers were being sought through police stations. “I want to tell the SC that your responsibility is not to further the BJP agenda but is towards integrity of the country,” Ms. Mufti said.