New Delhi: As Kashmir remains restive, Union home minister Amit Shah has set the wheels in motion to contain the situation in the Valley. The minister is likely to visit the state after the conclusion of Parliament session next week, even as he held a review meet in Delhi on Sunday.
Shah’s visit comes amid uncertainty and tension in the Valley ahead of Independence Day celebrations, with regional parties seeking greater clarity from the Centre about the developments in the state.
While there has been no direct statement from the Centre so far, all eyes are on the home minister’s visit in the wake of massive troop deployment in the Valley.
Top functionaries of the Central government are, in the interim, scrambling to take stock of the situation in the National Capital. Shah on Sunday, met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and incumbent Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba, amid escalating tension in the Valley.
While 10,000 additional troops were sent to Jammu and Kashmir last week, a person familiar with the development said “some of the troops that had been deployed to guard the Amarnath Yatra route may likely be asked to re-route to the Valley, if the internal security situation needs containment. If an order comes, troops will be moved to the specified areas by air and on-road convoys".
Meanwhile, people are queuing up outside fuel stations, ATMs, medicine and grocery shops fearing shortage of essential items amid the ongoing situation.
On Saturday, state governor Satya Pal Malik urged political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir not to believe in rumours that had been doing the rounds, and assured that the Centre had no plans of abrogating Article 35A, which gives special privileges to “permanent residents" of the state.
Experts in the Valley said the cause behind the turmoil was manifold, including the pressure to resolve the Kashmir issues post the recent meeting between US President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“At the moment there is a war-like situation in Kashmir. The period was absolutely peaceful and suddenly everything has been thrown out of gear. There could be multiple reasons for this – a massive crackdown in the Valley against separatist leaders, huge international pressure to resolve the Kashmir issue, especially after the meeting between Trump and Imran Khan, or the question of Articles 35A and 370. But only the Centre knows the real reason," said Nisar Ali, a member of the state finance commission of the Jammu and Kashmir government.
A senior state government official said on condition of anonymity that the state had not only witnessed encounters between militants and security forces over the last one week in south Kashmir’s Shopian and Pulwama districts, the Line of Control too had become acutely volatile since the meeting between Trump and Khan, with repeated unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army.
In a sudden turn of events, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday suspended the Amarnath pilgrimage and told pilgrims to either stay away or cut short their trip, citing a terror alert. The home department of the state, which is under President’s rule, issued an advisory to all Amarnath pilgrims, asking them to “curtail their stay in the valley immediately". The order comes just days after 100 additional companies of paramilitary personnel were deployed in the Valley.
On Sunday, the Indian army foiled an infiltration bid along the Kupwara sector in Jammu. While seven infiltrators have been gunned down since Friday by the anti-infiltration grid of the Indian army, security forces in the Valley reiterated that “multiple attempts are being made from across the border to disrupt peace in the Valley."