SRINAGAR and NEW DELHI: A total blackout marked Monday in Kashmir Valley even as PDP chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who was put under house arrest with National Conference leaders Farooq and Omar Abdullah, Sunday, was formally detained. Later, J&K People’s Conference leaders Sajjad Lone and Imran Ansari were also arrested.
With mobile Internet and SMS, landline services and TV channels suspended, panicked people were unable to reach out to their friends and family members with the Valley being cut off from the rest of India.
Authorities imposed night curfew in Kishtwar, Rajouri districts and Banihal area of Ramban district, Deputy Commissioner, Kishtwar, Angrez Singh Rana said. Restrictions were imposed in many districts of Jammu division and Srinagar, officials said.
The Army, meanwhile, moved six columns to Jammu to maintain law and order.The government had imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in Srinagar district Monday midnight as a precautionary measure and banned public movement, while all educational institutions, including universities in Srinagar and Jammu, were closed. Officials said all public meetings have been banned and only identity cards of essential services officials were treated as movement passes and police and civil administration officials were provided with satellite phones to communicate orders.
Security deployment at vital installations and sensitive areas were stepped up amid heightened terror threat and a flare-up of hostilities with Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC). Meanwhile, barricades were erected on many arterial roads-including the entry and exit points to Srinagar. Riot control vehicles were put on standby in areas where the apprehension of law and order disturbances is more following the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.
While tourists and students left the Valley in droves in the last two days, tour operators said they received cancellations from foreign and domestic tourists. “We have seen around 30% increase in cancellations by travellers heading to Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and other parts of Kashmir in the past three days,” said Aloke Bajpai, CEO & co-founder, ixigo.
Jubiliation in Leh
The decision to bifurcate Ladakh from J&K and turn the two regions into separate UTs triggered jubilation in Leh. Ladakh Buddhist Association president P T Kunzang, former MP Thupstan Chhewang and MLC Chering Dorjay all joined in hailing the decision, termed the move as a “historic” one