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  India   All India  30 Jul 2019  Mosques’ probe by police sets off Kashmir Valley panic

Mosques’ probe by police sets off Kashmir Valley panic

Published : Jul 30, 2019, 2:27 am IST
Updated : Jul 30, 2019, 6:10 am IST

It has also fuelled speculation by the regional parties on the fate of Articles 370 and 35A which give a special status to the state.

PMO minister of state Jitendra Singh
 PMO minister of state Jitendra Singh

Srinagar/New Delhi: A series of contingency orders issued by the Jammu and Kashmir administration over past few days, including a directive to the police to immediately provide det-ails of the mosques in the Kashmir Valley, where the Centre has moved additional forces, have caused panic among vast sections of the people in the state, mainly in the Valley.

It has also fuelled speculation by the regional parties on the fate of Articles 370 and 35A which give a special status to the state.

As the Valley remained on edge, PMO minister of state Jitendra Singh on Monday said the deployment of 10,000 securitymen in the state was part of the security drill and blamed the National Conference and the PDP for “creating noise”, claiming they feared losing the people’s mandate.

The latest directive was Srinagar’s senior superintendent of police asking the police zonal heads to collect details about mo-sques in their respective areas, including their exact locations and names and antecedents of their imams and the people who run these places of worship, and their ideological affiliation, “for onward submission to higher authorities”. The police chiefs of four other Valley districts were issued similar orders.

Last week, the Union home ministry ordered the deployment of about 11,000 more police and paramilitary personnel in the state to “strengthen the counter-insurgency grid and also deal with law and order situations”.

This with other contingency orders, including the railway authorities’ asking their staff to stock rations for at least four months and take other steps in view of the “forecast of the deteriorating situation in Kashmir for a long period”, have dominated the discourse in the state that the Centre might go in for some drastic steps, like scrapping Article 35A and Article 370 of the Constitution.

Article 370 guarantees special status to J&K in the Indian Union, while Article 35A envisages special rights and privileges to permanent residents of the state, thereby prohibiting non-permanent residents from permanent settlement and acquiring immovable properties, government jobs and scholarships in the state.

Article 35A also empowers the state legislature to define “permanent residents” and provide special rights and privileges to them. Several petitions seeking the repeal of both provisions are now pending before the Supreme Court.

In this backdrop, amid speculation about the Centre’s future plans for J&K, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday asked National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and a three-time chief minister of the state, to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the situation and evolve a combined strategy on issues concerning the state and its people.

Sources close to Dr Abdullah said he and other party MPs have sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apprise him of the situation and place their viewpoint on some vital issues. Separately, NC MPs have moved a request before the Lok Sabha Speaker to allow them to raise these issues in the House.

Late on Monday evening, Srinagar SSP Haseeb Mughal sought to clarify that his order directing five zonal superintendents of police to provide the list of mosques in the city and its management committees was a “routine policing exercise”. He said the police periodically updates information on not only mosques but also places of worship of other communities, including gurdwaras and temples, for normal policing.

Tags: kashmir valley, jitendra singh, mehbooba mufti
Location: India, Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar