Jammu and Kashmir has lost its special status and is now a Union Territory with a legislative assembly. There are reports of 28,000 troops being deployed in Kashmir and the Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPFs) has taken over all the major entry and exit points.
While the rest of the country has been keeping an eye on the news, the state is still in the dark. All communication channels have been cut off; there is no internet, no landline, no mobile network and no radio/television in the state today; Section 144 has been imposed. What it means is that we may be aware of what our parliament has decided today, but those who would be affected by it are still uncertain, in the dark, and terrified about what's happening.
Last week, Jammu and Kashmir Police, along with the Army, announced that arms and ammunition had been recovered along the route of the Amarnath Yatra. The authorities also announced that the security forces had found weapons, explosives, an American M-24 (sniper) rifle and a Pakistan-made mine. Following these intelligence inputs about probable terror attacks with Amarnath tourists being the target, the Jammu and Kashmir administration issued an advisory asking tourists to leave the valley at the earliest.
Following this, Section 144 (that prohibits the gathering of four or more people) of the Criminal procedure code (CrPC) was imposed and educational institutions were shut in the Valley. Politicians and both former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, alleged that they were put under house arrest. Omar Abdullah wrote in his tweet, "I believe I'm being placed under house arrest from midnight tonight and the process has already started for other mainstream leaders. No way of knowing if this is true but if it is then I'll see all of you on the other side of whatever is in store. Allah save us."
Earlier today, Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister and member of the People's Democratic Party, also tweeted, "How ironic that elected representatives like us who fought for peace are under house arrest. The world watches as people and their voices are being muzzled in J&K. The same Kashmir that chose a secular democratic India is facing oppression of unimaginable magnitude. Wake up India."
Since then, there has been a communication blackout in J&K.
This morning in Delhi, Home Minister Amit Shah moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to scrap Article 370 and Jammu and Kashmir was declared as a Union Territory. (Article 370 was introduced in 1949 and it gave special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The article was drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution: Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.) Soon after, a Presidential notification announced that Article 370 has been scrapped with immediate effect. It was said that the region of Ladakh would be a separate Union Territory without a legislative assembly.
What it means:
a) People from anywhere in India will be able to buy property in Kashmir
b) The provisions of the Indian Constitution are applicable in the state
c) There will not be a separate flag
d) Police will be managed by the centre
e) The centre can declare financial emergency in the state now
The state has witnessed decades of civil unrest and this move seems sudden after days of suspense. The state is on high alert right and many things seem uncertain at the moment, so our prayers are with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We hope that normalcy is restored in the Valley soon, our country upholds democracy, and peace is maintained.
Featured Image: Twitter