Terror threat in Jammu and Kashmir: Day after MHA advisory, govt officials, medical staff told not to take leaves; Amarnath yatris, students leave Valley in a rush
The confusion erupted on Friday shortly after Home Ministry issued an advisory asking tourists to leave Valley. The airfares for flights from Srinagar to Delhi this weekend shot up to abnormally high levels after this. Government officials, medical staffs ordered to not take leave without prior permission.
The confusion erupted on Friday shortly after Home Ministry issued an advisory asking tourists to leave Valley
The airfares for flights from Srinagar to Delhi this weekend shot up to abnormally high levels after this
Government officials, medical staffs ordered to not take leave without prior permission
Deployment of extra security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, evacuation of tourists, Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and non-locals from the Valley, and unconfirmed murmurs over the BJP-led central government mulling to waterdown the Article 35A which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, have together pushed the fragile peace of Kashmir to the edge and created a situation of chaos.
The confusion erupted on Friday shortly after the Home Ministry issued an advisory saying that in view of the latest “intelligence inputs of terror threats, with specific targeting of the Amarnath Yatra, and given the prevailing security situation in the Kashmir Valley, in the interest of safety and security of the tourists and Amarnath yatris, it is advised that they may curtail their stay in the Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return as soon as possible.”
The order spread like wildfire on social media, followed by tourists leaving the Valley, puzzled locals gathering at grocery shops to stock essentials, schools and colleges in a state of confusion over shutting from Saturday and fuel stations blocked by concertina wires to prevent panic buying.
Political parties can't meet at public places
We had made an effort to tell the people of this country and the government that what could be the consequence if they toy with Article 35A or 370. We made an appeal too, but no assurance has been given yet from the Centre. They are not bothered to say that everything will be alright," former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was quoted as saying by ANI.
According to Mufti, the state police has issued an advisory to all hotels not to let poltical parties hold any meeeting in the hotels. "The political parties here had decided to hold a meeting, at a hotel today. But police has issued an advisory to all hotels not to let political parties hold any meeting in hotels. So we're holding a meeting at 6 pm today at my home," Mufti said.
"They (Narendra Modi-led BJP government) did whatever they had to, with separatists. Now, they're using tactics against mainstream political parties. When they got hint of an all party meet, Farooq sa'ab was taken to Chandigarh. They're using corruption as a tool against political parties, workers being harassed."
Srinagar, Delhi flight price
The airfares for flights from Srinagar to Delhi this weekend shot up to abnormally high levels after the Jammu and Kashmir administration issued an advisory urging pilgrims to curtail Amarnath Yatra and return as soon as possible.
But, Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said, "Air India has decided to cap the fare at Rs 9,500 for all our flights to and from Srinagar till 15 August". The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Saturday advised airlines to rein in the surging airfare, for pilgrims returning from the Amarnath Yatra.
This came after Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday asked Indian airlines to be prepared to operate extra flights to and from Srinagar to fly out Amarnath Yatris and tourists from the Valley, the airlines made announcements to give a full fee waiver on rescheduling or cancellation for all its flights to and from Srinagar.
Government officials, medical staffs ordered to not take leave
With utter confusion descending on the state, government hospitals, block medical divisions and the state government have issued a notice asking the staffs not to leave duty without prior permission. Notices have been issued by Government Bone and Joint Hospital in Barzula, Srinagar. The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council have also issued a similar notice.
Non-resident students asked to leave Valley
A day after the Home Department ordered tourists and Amarnath pilgrims to leave the Valley in the wake of "terror threats", the state government's Polytechnic college in Srinagar issued a notice on Saturday, saying that all students residing in the hostel should immediately vacate, no students will be allowed provided stay before further instructions.
Similarly, the Central University of Kashmir also asked students to vacate hostels, and announced that examinations would be postponed till further orders.
Telangana Chief Secretary S K Joshi on Saturday directed officials of Telangana Bhavan in New Delhi to bring 130 Telugu students studying in National Institute of Technology in Srinagar to the state in view of the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir. According to officials, 26 buses from the government's State Road Transport Corporation have been pressed into service to ferry the students to Jammu.
On Saturday morning, hundreds of non-local students from the premier engineering institute were seen waiting for the government buses along with their luggage. On Friday evening, the institute had ordered suspension of all the classwork from Saturday on the "instructions received from the District Administration Srinagar."
However, Srinagar deputy commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary denied these reports. He claimed that the administration has not issued any advisory for the closure of institutions but had merely asked the administration to "remain careful."
"In wake of unstoppable rumours, heads of all institutions were advised in the day to remain careful. No advise/instructions for shutting down any institution. This NIT notice is apparently a miscommunication," Choudhary said in a tweet on Friday.
Pilgrims flown out of Srinagar
Around 20,000 Hindu pilgrims and Indian tourists, as well as more than 200,000 labourers, were in the process of leaving the region, a local government official said. "In the interest of safety and security of the tourists and Amarnath Yatris, it is advised that they may curtail their stay in the Valley immediately," Kashmir's home secretary, Shaleen Kabra, said in a statement.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) flew 326 tourists out of Srinagar on Saturday after the state administration's advisory to pilgrims and visitors to cut short their stay and leave Kashmir Valley at the earliest, officials said. IAF carried out two sorties from Srinagar during the day, they said. There were 11,301 tourists when the advisory was issued and only 1,652 of them remained on Saturday.
Police has asked all hotels in Srinagar not to check in any fresh guests and ensure that the hotels are empty by Sunday morning. Tourists having an air ticket of a later date have been asked to approach the airport Sunday morning for rescheduling their departure.
Tourism director Wani said about 20,000-22,000 tourists were in Kashmir on Friday. According to the Airports Authority of India, 6,126 passengers reported at the Srinagar International Airport on Saturday to travel out of the Valley. Out of this, 5,829 passengers travelled by 32 scheduled flights. The remaining 387 passengers were accommodated in four IAF aircraft and flown to destinations like Jammu, Pathankot and Hindon.
On Saturday, both Britain and Germany also warned their citizens against travelling to Kashmir.
Assurance from Governor Satya Pal Malik
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik continued to insist that the panic was "unnecessary" calling the sudden surge in troop deployment a "pure security measure."
The Indian Air Force’s Lockheed Martin C-130s are said to be bringing in additional troops on Saturday morning. This comes just days after the Ministry of Home Affairs had deployed 100 additional companies of paramilitary personnel in the Valley. The state police also withdrew security from a number of shrines, mosques and even some courts, apparently to channel all resources in addressing the "arising security situation", News18 reported.
When a delegation of mainstream political parties met Malik on Friday evening, his office noted, "There were serious and credible inputs which were available to the 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,"
"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 and requested the leaders to ask their supporters "not to mix up matters, to maintain calm and not believe exaggerated rumours being circulated all around".
Demand for clear stance from Centre
Amid this mayhem, Opposition parties has been demanding a clear response from the Central government. Former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, accompanied by a JKNC delegation, met governor Satya Pal Malik and subsequently addressed a press conference, reported The Wire.
“We spoke about Article 370 and even trifurcation with the governor. He has assured us that nothing of this sort is going to happen, no announcement as such are to be made. The Governor has assured no announcement on Article 370, 35A and trifurcation,” said Omar Abdullah, addressing the press conference.
Abdullah also stressed that it was pertinent that the Central government issue a statement in parliament on Monday over the prevailing situation in J&K. “We don’t want silence from the government of India. We want to hear from the government in Parliament. The government should realise that it is not in their interest to have a restive Jammu and Kashmir,” added the former state chief minister.
Condemning the government's decision to curtail the Amarnath Yatra, the Congress on Saturday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a statement in Parliament on the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir and expressed apprehensions about a "misadventure" by the Union Home Ministry.
Locals extending helping hand to tourists
As confusion envelops the Valley, the locals extend their helping hand to the visitors, ensuring that the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and all non-residents are safely escorted out of the state.
Tourists, labourers, Yatris returning from Kashmir can stay in Banihal, J&K wd out any fear. I am told many non-Kashmiris splly labourers hve no money to travel. I hve asked the local youth to arrange Langar, accomodation, buses for them. For any help cont. Rahat +917780989194 pic.twitter.com/eMIOjyPSOs
— Salman Nizami (@SalmanNizami_) August 3, 2019
With inputs from agencies
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