The centre today defended the restrictions imposed on Jammu and Kashmir, terming them as preventive steps adopted in view of credible inputs that terror groups backed by Pakistan were planning to launch a major strike there. “Not a single loss of life or serious injury was reported. Only a few preventive detentions were made to maintain peace,” Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam told mediapersons.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under clampdown since August 5, when the centre abruptly revoked its special status under Article 370 through a presidential order and bifurcated it into two separate union territories. Many social activists and opposition politicians, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, termed it as a violation of human rights.
Mr Subrahmanyam, however, said that the restrictions served a purpose. “We have prevented any loss of human life despite concerted efforts by terrorist organisations, radical groups and continuing efforts by Pakistan to destabilise the situation,” he said.
The Chief Secretary said that normalcy would return to the region soon, given that government offices have already started functioning. “From next week, schools will begin reopening in a phased manner,” he said, adding that telecom services should be restored by the coming weekend.
“Keeping the evolving situation in view, we are taking steps to ease restrictions in a gradual and calibrated manner,” he said. “Preventive detentions are also being reviewed and appropriate decisions will be taken keeping the law-and-order situation in view.”
The centre had taken prominent political leaders, including National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti, into custody the night before revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution. They are yet to be released.
Ms Mufti’s daughter, Iltija Javed, alleged yesterday that she has been detained at home and threatened with dire consequences if she spoke to the media. “Today, while the rest of the country celebrates India’s Independence Day, Kashmiris have been caged like animals and deprived of basic human rights,” she wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah.
The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary, however, disputed the claim. “Whatever we did was by way of precaution only, keeping the safety and well-being of the public at large. We have prevented any loss to human life through our decision,” he said, adding that terrorist groups cannot be allowed to “wreak havoc” in the region anymore.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration claimed in a press statement that Pakistan-backed groups were planning to launch terror attacks to “create an atmosphere of terror” and block developmental activities in the region. It was to prevent this that certain measures, including “restrictions on free movement, prevention of large gatherings, restrictions on telecom connectivity and closure of schools and colleges”, were implemented while ensuring that there was “no shortage of essential supplies and medical facilities”, it said.
“As things stand, 12 of the 22 districts in the state are functioning normally with some limited night-time restrictions in five,” the press statement added.
The United Nations Security Council will meet today to discuss India’s decision to revoke Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, after Pakistan wrote a letter on the issue to the world body. China – Pakistan’s closest ally – has sought “closed consultations” in the UN Security Council, which will meet at 10 am local time (7:30 pm IST) to discuss the matter.