Two days curfew has been clamped in Kashmir where security forces have also been deployed in strength ahead of the first anniversary on 5 August of abrogation of the Article 370 that granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. While the opposition parties have called it a “black day” in the history of J&K, the BJP has chalked out fortnight long celebrations to mark the revocation of the Constitutional provision and splitting of the state into two union territories (UTs).
Movement of people has been banned since Monday night in Srinagar after an order was issued by the district magistrate. Curfew will remain in force till Wednesday. Security forces have been deployed throughout the valley and the main markets, including the Lal Chowk which is the commercial hub of Srinagar, have been sealed with barbed wire and other hurdles.
The top separatist Syed Alishah Geelani, for whom Pakistan recently announced the highest civilian award—Nishan e Pakistan, has given the call for observing 5 August as black day throughout Kashmir.
The decision to impose curfew was reportedly taken after a high level meeting presided by the General Officer Commanding 15 Corps of the Army, Lt. General BS Raju and J&K DGP Dilbag Singh. Officers of security forces, police, intelligence agencies and civil administration participated in the meeting.
Citing a police communication and inputs suggesting that the “separatists and Pakistan sponsored groups are planning to observe 5 August as black day, therein apprehensions of violence or protests are not ruled out. There are specific inputs about violent protests endangering public life and property”, Srinagar’s district magistrate last night ordered that the restrictions shall come into force with immediate effect and shall remain into force on 4th and 5th August 2020”.
Reacting to the decision of the administration, former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted; “The preparations start a full 24 hours earlier this year compared to 2019 with Srinagar, and I presume the same is being done across the valley, being placed under strict curfew from tonight for the next two days”.
Twitter account of another former chief minister and PDP leader, Mehbooba Mufti, whose detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) has been enhanced by 3 months, said; “Protest has been contained simply because the state has become a large jail. Locking up everyone can be a strategy to fight crime, but with everyone in, on whose behalf are you fighting crime, anyway?”
Talking to The Statesman on the issue over the phone from Srinagar, the veteran National Conference leader Dr. Farooq Abdullah questioned the way of the Modi government celebrating abrogation of the special status of J&K by imposing curfew. Civil liberties have been curtailed by putting opposition leaders under detention, he alleged.
CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami lashed out at the BJP and said their style of celebrating things was unique and this time they have clamped curfew to rejoice abrogation of Article 370. Why was the administration resorting to curfew, crackdowns and attempts to muzzle the voice of dissent if there was peace and everything was normal in J&K as claimed by the BJP, he asked.