Less than a week after moving 10,000 troops of paramilitary forces to Kashmir, the centre is rushing about 25,000 more paramilitary personnel to the Valley, as part of a massive security drive. Official sources say the troops started arriving on Thursday morning and are being inducted in various parts of the state.
The government had last week said that 100 companies (each company has about 100 soldiers) were brought in to strengthen the counter-insurgency grid in Kashmir. The decision to send the troops came after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval returned from a two-day visit to Kashmir valley last week. Sources said he met senior officers and reviewed the law and order situation in the state that’s still under the President’s rule.
Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Dilbag Singh had last week said there are less troops in north Kashmir and that is why the need for additional forces.
The troop build-up has fueled speculations in Kashmir.
On Wednesday, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik said there is no plan to scrap Article 35A, which defines permanent residents of the state and bars outsiders from purchasing and owning immovable property.
Meanwhile, the Amarnath Yatra has been suspended till August 4. While the government cited adverse weather conditions as a reason for its suspension, the weather department has not predicted any major change in conditions. Official sources say a section of troops deployed for the Yatra are also being moved for some impending law and order duty.
Around 400 companies, which constitute about 40,000 personnel, are deployed for the yatra’s security.
Sources say all security formations have been asked to remain in a state of readiness.
Army chief General Bipin Rawat arrived in Srinagar on Thursday to review the security preparations in Kashmir. The defence spokesperson said the army chief will be in Kashmir for two days.
Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and asked him to conduct elections in the state by the end of the year. Mr Abdullah, who was part of a National Conference delegation that included his father Farooq Abdullah, another former chief minister, also urged PM Modi to refrain from upsetting the fragile situation in the Kashmir Valley.
Omar Abdullah would not specify if Article 35A (and Article 370) was discussed, but said any discussion “must cover all issues, including Article 35A and Article 370”.
Last week, PDP chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had warned the centre against tinkering with the provision, saying it would be akin to setting a powder keg on fire.