Former CMs Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and People’s Conference leader Sajjad Lone – the three most prominent politicians from Jammu and Kashmir – were placed under house arrest late Sunday. The move comes at a time when the state has plunged into uncertainty amid a massive security build-up and government advisory asking pilgrims and tourists to leave Kashmir immediately.
Congress leader Usman Majid and CPI(M) MLA M Y Tarigami have also said that they have been arrested.
The recent developments have triggered intense speculation about plans to modify the special status granted to the state under the constitution – a highly emotive issue linked to the rights of its residents.
“How ironic that elected representatives like us who fought for peace are under house arrest. The world watches as people & their voices are being muzzled in J&K,” Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.
Omar Abdullah wrote: “I’ll see all of you on the other side of whatever is in store. Allah save us.”
Authorities have clamped prohibitory orders under the Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits assembly of more than four people at a time. Government has imposed restrictions in Srinagar with effect from 1200 Hrs on August 5, which shall remain in force till further orders. As per the order, there shall be no movement of public and all educational institutions shall also remain closed. There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order. Identity cards of essential services officials will be treated as movement passes wherever required.
Mobile internet services were suspended across the Kashmir valley as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order, police said. Many schools and colleges have been shut down and various educational institutions directed their students to vacate hostels.
Earlier in the day, leaders from all political parties from the state held a meeting and issued a resolution, warning the government of “consequences” if it changed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir remained on edge on Sunday as authorities stepped up security deployment at vital installations and sensitive areas and enforced curfew-like restrictions citing heightened terror threat and a flare up of hostilities with Pakistan along the Line of Control.
After the Jammu and Kashmir administration scrapped the Amarnath Yatra and asked pilgrims and tourists to leave the valley at the earliest on Friday, anxious residents continue to throng markets to stock on essentials and serpentine queues have been visible outside shops and fuel stations.
Additional paramilitary forces – as many as 35,000 – which arrived here last week, have been deployed across the city and in other vulnerable areas of Kashmir Valley, the officials said.
In Delhi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with top security officials, officials said. The hour-long meeting was attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other senior officials.
The Union Cabinet is scheduled to meet on Monday at 9:30 am at the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.