As Mehbooba Calls for All-party Meet to Deal with ‘Panic’ in Valley, Centre Dismisses PDP, NC's ‘Fear Mongering'
The war of words began after the Centre ordered moving 100 companies of paramilitary forces to the Valley. A senior government functionary said the movement of troops was routine and the panic being spread was unnecessary.
New Delhi: Amid speculation about the Union government moving towards doing away with Article 35-A in Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party leader and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti called for an all-party meeting to deal with the “Centre’s designs”.
In a tweet, Mufti wrote, “In light of recent developments that have caused a sense of panic amongst people in J&K, I’ve requested Dr Farooq Abdullah sahab to convene an all party meeting. Need of the hour is to come together & forge a united response. We the people of Kashmir need to stand up as one.”
Farooq Abdullah too has warned the Centre against any move to take away Kashmir’s special status. Speaking to reporters in Parliament, he said, “Article 35A & Article 370 should not be removed. It forms our foundation. There is no need to remove it. We are Hindustani but they (Article 35A & Article 370) are important for us.”
The war of words began after the Centre ordered moving 100 companies of paramilitary forces to the Valley. A senior government functionary dealing with Kashmir told News18 the movement of troops was routine and the panic being spread by local parties was unnecessary.
“We had 400 companies sitting in Kashmir since the local body elections. We had to replace them and hence, the order,” the official said.
When asked about the other orders, including the Railway Protection Force (RPF) asking its employees to prepare for an emergency and Srinagar police asking for mosque details, the official said they were “routine”.
J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik’s advisor on home affairs K Vijay Kumar also rejected speculations that troop movement was in any way connected to a pending announcement on 35-A. “It is a routine exercise and the decision was taken in the backdrop of a meeting related to Amarnath yatra and other counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir,” he said.
According to government officials in Delhi, the heightened security measures were also due to receipt of inputs that said Pakistan’s intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) could attempt a terror attack during the last phase of the Amarnath yatra.
When asked why no official clarification was issued by the Centre, an official said, “The government has been busy with the Parliament session. There is no immediate move afoot to remove 35-A, but the government was not in favour of coming out with any official denial beyond what has been said because it did not want to give the National Conference (NC)-PDP a chance to set a narrative and play politics.”
Meanwhile, sources said the Budgam RPF official, Sudesh Nugyal, who issued a controversial letter on the "deteriorating situation" in Kashmir has been transferred. In the letter, Nugyal asked employees to stock ration for at least four months, store drinking water for seven days and fill vehicles fully to deal with the issue of law and order for a long period as there is a "forecast of deteriorating situation" in Kashmir.
The letter created a flutter and was shared widely on social media, including by former chief minister Omar Abdullah who questioned the motive behind such a missive.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too has dismissed the “fear mongering” by the PDP and NC. Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Officer Jitender Singh accused the Valley parties of spreading rumours for electoral gains.
“These parties have all along benefited from the atmosphere of militancy and won elections with a voter turn-out of 10 per cent. They don’t want normalcy.”
Hitting out at the National Conference and its late leader Sheikh Abdullah, Singh said, “As chief minister he had forgotten Article 370 when he promptly adopted the infamous 42nd and 43rd constitutional amendments of the Emergency era to extend the term of the Assembly to six years, and only three years later, the same Sheikh Abdullah used the shield of Article 370 and refused to adopt the constitutional amendments to restore its term to five years. (His son) Farooq Abdullah was the first to adopt the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), but now he talks of reverting to the pre-1953 position and reverse all the central laws.”
Officials also said that while the BJP was committed to abrogation of articles 370 and 35A, the matter was sub judice.