The grim situation in Jammu and Kashmir continues with Centre maintaining that there is a high alert in the valley. Former J&K chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, who were under house arrest since Sunday night, were arrested late on Monday night.
J&K People’s Conference leaders Sajjad Lone and Imran Ansari have also been arrested. The officials cited the prevailing law and order situation and protests organised by the supporters of these politicians as reasons for the arrests.
Earlier during the day, Union home ministry issued fresh advisory to all states and Union territories (UT) asking them to ensure safety and security of Kashmiri people and at the same make sure that no untoward incident is reported due to Centre’s decision to remove Article 370 and bifurcate the state.
Mobile services and internet remained suspended in the state. Officials told ET: “Deployment in the valley has been scaled up fearing armed rebellion from… Jammu and Kashmir police.” Home secretary Rajiv Gauba is likely to visit the valley in the coming days, said another official.
On possible circulation of fake messages on social media, the advisory added: “… issue suitable instructions to security and law enforcement agencies to keep a vigil against circulation of false, unverified news, rumours and unscrupulous messages on social media aimed at disrupting peace and public tranquility.”
Security forces are on a high alert but do not expect Pakistan to ratchet up a large scale offensive along the Line of Control (LoC), given the strong stance the Army has taken on countering any attempts to breach defenses on the border. While the Army’s deployment on the border has not increased, forces are on high alert amid intelligence reports of terror launch pads getting activated across the border.
Official said Centre has planned to induct a total of about 300 to 400 companies into J&K in a phased manner for law and order duties. “There has been no increase in troop deployments along India’s border with Pakistan, the alertness levels have gone up and security arrangements have been beefed up there,” a south block official said.
Officials said that the amendments and proposed reorganisation of the state could result in civil unrest and there is a danger that suicide attacks and the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) could scale up. “Whether that will translate into a higher level of terrorism there is still unclear. But, there is a danger that the civil disturbance could start a cycle of violence which could translate into terrorism,” said an official.
Sources said that Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed plans to carry out attacks before Independence Day. “This group comprising of four-five persons had become active on July 30-31. Terrorist camps that were earlier empty, started having terrorists coming in with weapons between July 30 and 31. From the launch pads the terrorists started moving towards the LoC. The BAT teams were preparing for action,” said an official.
However, the LoC is not expected to see heavy action beyond a breach of the ceasefire agreement. “Large scale action on the LoC is not probable as we are well prepared and they know that the response will be disproportional,” former Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (retd) told ET.
On the law and order situation, experts say that while there will be incidents in the coming days, the system is better prepared than ever before. “Some parallel could be drawn to the protests that broke out in 2016 after Burhan Wani was killed. This time the government is much better prepared because at that time we got surprised how quickly things unfolded.” former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd) said.