Panic deepens as security deployment stepped up in J&K

Tourists and Amarnath Yatris wait at Jammu Railway Station to leave for their homes after the J & K government issued a security advisory asking them to curtail their stay in the state (PTI Photo)

Fear and panic deepened in Kashmir on Sunday as security deployment at vital installations and sensitive areas was stepped up amid heightened terror threat and a flare-up of hostilities with Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC).

With all kinds of rumours related to J&K’s special status, its political future and limited scale war with Pakistan along the LoC afloat, people in Kashmir, for the third consecutive day, were seen thronging markets to stock essentials including eatables, baby food, medicines and other commodities.

The secretive leakage of a series of official orders over the past one week - from troops’ build-up to asking tourists and yatris to leave Kashmir immediately to shutting down college hostels, cancelling leaves of doctors and ordering stocking of food grains - has led to a frenzied atmosphere.

Reports said additional paramilitary forces, which arrived here last week, were deployed across Srinagar city and in other vulnerable areas of Kashmir Valley on Sunday. The strength of the security personnel was increased around the civil secretariat, police headquarters, airport and various central government establishments, they added.

The Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) Sunday asked around 100 cricketers, including former India all-rounder, Irfan Pathan, to leave Kashmir in view of the prevailing situation. Various educational institutions also directed their students to vacate hostels.

Sources said Indian Railways has decided that ticket-checking will be lenient on trains leaving Jammu, Udhampur and Katra for the next 48 hours to enable scores of passengers, especially Amarnath pilgrims, to leave the state even without holding reserved tickets.

Regional National Conference held its political affairs committee (PAC) meeting in the morning, where they called for effective and immediate measures to instil confidence among the people. They said that the party was willing to go the extra mile to defend the special status of the State. The meet was presided over by party vice president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

In the evening an all-party meeting was called at the Gupkar residence of NC president, Farooq Abdullah which was attended by almost all the senior politicians of Kashmir, including three former CMs. After the meeting, the senior Abdullah appealed to both India and Pakistan not to take any step that may accelerate the tension between the two countries.

He also requested people to maintain peace and said that leaders of all the political parties in the state were united in their “struggle to safeguard the special status of Kashmir.”

Earlier the meeting was to be held in a local hotel but had to be moved since the police had advised establishments against hosting political parties.

Amid all the panic, chaos and confusion, governor Satya Pal Malik once again dismissed speculations that the Centre might be planning to do away with Article 35A of the Constitution, a law which bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property or government jobs in the restive Himalayan state.

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