Hyderabad: Post the formal integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India, the Centre appears to have begun efforts to emotionally integrate the Kashmiris and reach out to them, beginning Friday by facilitating them to offer the Friday noon prayers, even as 70 pro-Pakistan separatists and trouble makers including hardened terrorists who often foment trouble in the valley, especially on Fridays, were quietly shifted out of the Kashmir valley to a central jail in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, in a special Indian Air Force plane — a first of its kind operation.
Amid unprecedented security, the J&K administration will facilitate people to offer Friday noon prayers, and depending on the situation after the noon prayers, the authorities will take a call on whether or not to further relax the tight security tomorrow.
Srinagar witnessed movement of normal traffic for some time and at some places, shops too opened.
Simultaneously, the administration has also directed all government employees working at the divisional level, district level and those serving in the Srinagar civil secretariat, to report for duty with immediate effect. The administration has assured employees of a secure working environment “We are making all the necessary arrangements to ensure a peaceful Friday. Trouble makers have been shifted out of the valley to a jail in Agra under tight security. They have been kept in a high security barrack of the central prison. Additional forces, including the Provisional Armed Constabulary (PAC) and SWOT teams, have been posted outside the jail. Now that the main trouble makers are out of the valley, we are hoping that Friday will be peaceful and the locals will be able to offer Friday prayers in a peaceful atmosphere,” a senior official in the security establishment told Deccan Chronicle over the telephone from New Delhi.
He, however, remained tight lipped when further details were sought.
The day began with senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s arrival at Srinagar airport. As expected, he was not allowed into Srinagar not allowed into Srinagar and sent back from the airport.
However, before leaving Srinagar airport, Mr Azad was asked about National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval’s visit to the sensitive Shopian district where he had a much-advertised lunch with locals yesterday. The senior Congress leader said “anybody can be bought to do that”.
This drew sharp criticism from senior BJP leader and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Officer Jitender Singh who said: “To say something like this would amount to questioning the integrity of Kashmiris. Let’s not forget that the resolution to abrogate Article 370 was passed by both the Houses.’’
By evening, Governor Satyapal Malik, who reviewed the security situation, directed officials to make all arrangements for the people to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha and directed them to set up special markets at different locations in the valley where people can buy animals to sacrifice as is traditional on the occasion.
Simultaneously, Army Chief Bipin Rawat briefed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the developments in J & K and on the Indo-Pak border, with the Armed forces in a state of high alert and closely monitoring the situation.
The Governor also directed the officials to facilitate students of other states to return to their homes for Eid. He sanctioned Rs 1 lakh each to designated liaison officers for organising Eid festivities for Jammu and Kashmir students who are studying in other states and are unable to come to their homes on the occasion. He also passed orders to set up telephone lines in the Deputy Commissioner’s offices for the students to talk to their families back home.
There were unconfirmed reports of sporadic violence in parts of the Kashmir valley but this was soon put down. In Kargil, where the authorities had imposed section 144, protestors defied the prohibitory orders and resorted to stone pelting.
The security forces used tear gas and resorted to a lathi charge to disperse the protestors.
More than 20 persons were taken into custody....