A fresh order directing the five zonal superintendents of police to provide the list of mosques in the city and its management committees has added to the speculation about some major decision in the offing regarding Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
“Please provide details of mosques and their managements falling without your respective jurisdictions as per enclosed proforma to this office immediately for onward submission to higher authorities,” according an order issued by the Srinagar senior superintendent of police to the zonal SPs on Sunday night.
The order, which is being widely circulated on social media, has added to the speculation that the Centre might have plans to do away with Article 35A, which gives exclusive rights to the state’s residents in government jobs and land.
These speculations have dominated the discourse in Kashmir over the past few days after the Centre decided to rush an additional 100 companies of central armed paramilitary forces to the valley. The mainstream political parties have vowed to resist any such move to tinker with the special status.
On Saturday, a letter by a Railway Protection Force (RPF) official in Budgam asking employees to stock ration for at least four months and take other steps due to “forecast of deteriorating situation” in the Kashmir Valley “for a long period” created a flutter.
“As per inputs received from different security agencies and SSP/GRP/SINA (senior superintendent of police, Government Railway Police, Srinagar) regarding forecast of deteriorating situation in Kashmir valley and issue of law and order for a long period, a precautionary security meeting was held on July 27,” the letter by Sudesh Nugyal, assistant security commissioner, RPF, Budgam, reads.
The official asked the employees to take various precautionary measures like storing drinking water for seven days and fill vehicles fully to deal with the issue of law and order for a long period as there is a “forecast of deteriorating situation” in the valley.
The railways, however, clarified that the communication had no basis and the official had no authority to issue it.
National Conference leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah had questioned the motive behind such a missive.
“It’s easy to blame valley residents for fear-mongering but what are we to make of such official orders which forecast a deterioration in the law & order environment and even predict disturbances lasting for an extended period of time? Why is the Govt silent?” Abdullah asked.
Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti also warned the Centre against revocation of Article 35A of the Constitution, saying any tinkering with the state’s special status or identity would be akin to setting a powder keg on fire.
“If any hand tries to touch Article 35-A, not only that hand, but that whole body will burn to ashes,” Mufti had while said addressing her party’s foundation day here on Sunday.
Former MLA and Peoples United Front (PUF) leader Sheikh Abdul Rasheed said mainstream politics would perish in Kashmir if the Centre tinkers with Article 35A.
BJP vice-president and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had accused Abdullah and Mufti on Saturday of spreading rumours about the deployment of additional troops to the valley, saying the deployment was a normal process and a “routine” exercise.