Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, Sajjad Lone and Imran Raza Ansari of the People's Conference, and Shah Faesal of the J&K People's Movement called on Malik and asked him to dispel the rumours that have caused panic in the Valley. Soon after the meeting, Mufti tweeted and thanked the other leaders for joining her.
After a brief discussion, we called on Shri Satyapal Malik ji, Governor J&K & requested him to dispel rumours that’ve caused a sense of panic in the valley. Thankful to Farooq sahab, @sajadlone,@imranrezaansari and @shahfaesal for their time today.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) August 2, 2019
A statement issued after the meeting said the Governor informed the delegation of "serious and credible inputs" available to security agencies regarding terrorist attacks on the Amarnath Yatra.
"It is in this context that the government had issued an advisory asking yatris and tourists to return as soon as possible. These are a vulnerable group of people who do not know the area and are extremely vulnerable to a terrorist or a 'fidayeen' attack," said the statement. "It is the responsibility of the state to provide security to all its citizens. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, yatris and tourists have been asked to return. This is to ensure that no terrorist attack takes place on them."
The Governor added that "unnecessary panic is being created by linking this to all kinds of other issues".
"A pure security measure is being mixed up with issues with which it has no connection. That is the cause of the panic," he said.
Malik requested the political leaders to ask their supporters not to mix up matters, to maintain calm and not believe exaggerated rumours being circulated. He reiterated that there are no plans to abrogate Article 35A of the Constitution, which accords special status to the state and its residents.
Before meeting the Governor, Mufti held a brief press conference where she appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to tinker with Article 35A. She said he must ensure that the "sacrifices" of the people of the state do not go waste.
Mufti asked if Modi wanted to win the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir by talking about "Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat, Kashmiriyat", why was such an atmosphere being created where the people feel their identity was under threat?
"I am sure the people of the country want the people of J&K, and not just the land. But the situation is such that it seems you think about J&K as an issue of territory. The whole territory is with you already," she said.
Mufti said J&K was the only Muslim-majority state that had rejected the two-nation theory and joined with a secular and democratic India under difficult times on the conditions that its unique identity would be protected.
"There are constitutional guarantees for its protection. Today, it seems that attempts are being made to end those constitutional guarantees. There are many rumours," she said. "If you attack the state's special identity for which the people have rendered immense sacrifices, then I think it is an excess on the people, and its repercussions would not be good."
Dramatic scenes unfolded after the press briefing as Mufti was stopped from visiting the residence of National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah. However, she was later given permission, said an official.
Mufti had earlier taken to Twitter to express her outrage over the sudden curtailment of the Amarnath Yatra and said,"The "gloves are finally off and India has chosen territory over people."
She said that New Delhi appeared to be preparing "to rob" the people of Jammu and Kashmir of "whatever little is left to protect their unique identity".
"(PDP founder and two-time chief minister) Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) sahab would always say that whatever Kashmiris will get, it will be from their own country India. But today the same country seems to be preparing to rob them of whatever little is left to protect their unique identity," she said.
The former chief minister had earlier expressed hope that Kashmir would not be "used as a red herring to distract the masses from the real issues".
"The economy is in free fall but I hope, like always, that Kashmir isn't used as a red herring to distract the masses from the real issues. Such a move will have catastrophic consequences and push Kashmiris to the brink," she said.
Mufti said for a state that is often referred to as the crown of India, "the uncaring and callous treatment meted out to its people is disconcerting".
"Ideally some sort of clarification should have been issued. Instead, a misinformation campaign is being run while an uneasy calm prevails in Kashmir," she said.
In the aftermath of the government advisory asking pilgrims and tourists to leave the Valeey, people started buying essentials and lining up at petrol pumps to fill their vehicles, fearing disturbances in the law and order situation.
"Complete chaos on the streets of Srinagar. People rushing to ATMs, petrol pumps and stocking up on essential supplies. Is GOI (government of India) only concerned about the safety of yatris while Kashmiris have been left to their own devices?" asked Mufti as the city witnessed traffic jams at several places.
(With PTI inputs)