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'Doomsday Feeling': Shah Faesal, Omar Abdullah Demand Clarity as Fear, Anxiety Peaks in Kashmir

The Centre had rushed in additional 10,000 troops, to the valley on an ‘urgent’ basis on Friday, and simultaneously started a crackdown on separatist leaders, beginning with the arrest of JKLF chief Yasin Malik in a late night raid.


Updated:February 23, 2019, 9:33 PM IST
'Doomsday Feeling': Shah Faesal, Omar Abdullah Demand Clarity as Fear, Anxiety Peaks in Kashmir
Shah Faesal, the 2010 IAS topper, quit bureaucracy last year to join politics. (Facebook photo)

New Delhi: The combination of an overnight crackdown on separatist leaders, deployment of 10,000 additional troops and panic-inducing government orders asking shops to distribute rations till late have caused tension to peak in Kashmir, with civil society members and politicians voicing concerns.

IAS officer Shah Faesal, who quit bureaucracy last month to join politics, summed up the feeling of panic in a tweet as he implored the government to give clarity on why these orders have been issued.

“Prime Minister @narendramodi, we haven't slept last night and we don't know whether we are going to wake up alive tomorrow. People are avoiding movement and hoarding essential items; it is a doomsday feeling. Can someone tell us what’s happening here? Kashmir wants peace,” he wrote.

Former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, in a tweet, also said that government orders were creating tension. He said that people have started hoarding food and fuel.

“People in the valley, especially the cities and towns, are taking everything said or done as a sign that some big trouble is just around the corner. The administration needs to take steps to reduce this sense of panic. Let’s hope someone in the government is listening,” he said.

“People are wound tight with worry and the speculation on some TV news channels is contributing to this as well,” he added.

The Centre had rushed in 100 additional companies of paramilitary forces, roughly 10,000 troops, to the valley on an ‘urgent’ basis on Friday, and simultaneously started a crackdown on separatist leaders, beginning with the arrest of JKLF chief Yasin Malik in a late night raid.

Over 150 people, mainly from the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz, were arrested on Saturday, leading to violent protests.

This comes ahead of a hearing in the Supreme Court on validity of Article 35-A of the Constitution that provides special rights and privileges to natives of Jammu and Kashmir.

Heightened tension was palpable and people were seen in groups on streets even as security was tightened. Orders issued by some government departments added to the fears of the people. Long queues were seen outside petrol stations and people were thronging provision shops and buying essential supplies.

The Government Medical College in Srinagar cancelled winter vacation of its faculty members and directed them to positively report for work on Monday.

The Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, which provides ration to people through its outlets, has directed its staff members in south Srinagar to ensure completing sale of food grains in their respective areas by Saturday evening. They were also directed to keep the ration depots and sale outlets open on Sunday as well.

In a statement, the divisional commissioner of Kashmir said fuel rationing was ordered due to shortage caused by the prolonged closure of the National Highway.

On food rationing, the DC said the department of food supplies and consumer affairs was asked to ensure proper distribution due to procedural requirements and said there was no need to panic.

The Jammu and Kashmir Socio-Economic Coordination Committee (JKSECC), an amalgam of 27 trade, industry, tourism, transport, horticulture and other civil society formations, meanwhile, also urged the Modi government to “refrain from any misadventure in Kashmir that may further vitiate the already volatile situation beyond control.”

“The members discussed regretted that the government instead of instilling faith and confidence in people was indulging in acts that cause disquiet and horror in them,” said JKSECC in a statement.

On Friday night, choppers were also reported to be hovering over Kashmir Valley. The sound of frequent flying of fighter jets till 1.30 am added to the worries of the residents due to simmering Indo-Pak tension following the Pulwama suicide car bomb attack. However, IAF officials described it as a routine exercise.

While no official reason has been given for the additional deployment, police sources say it is for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state and the request for the immediate movement has been made due to the closure of the Jammu-Srinagar Highway.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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