NEW DELHI :
Prohibitory orders were extended to the towns of Kargil, Drass and Sankoo in Ladakh on Thursday after more than 40 stone-throwing protests took place in neighbouring Kashmir valley against the Centre’s withdrawal of special status for Jammu and Kashmir.
The lockdown took place just a day after national security adviser Ajit Doval visited the region and held a detailed security review meeting with the Jammu and Kashmir Police and central paramilitary forces.
Within hours of the meeting, the district magistrate of Kargil issued prohibitory orders. All schools and colleges in the region have also been shut indefinitely.
While shops and local businesses have remained shut in Kargil since Monday, the clampdown in Ladakh was imposed following disturbances in Kashmir, with protests breaking out against the state’s bifurcation into two Union territories (UTs) and the removal of provisions of Article 370 on Monday.
According to ground reports accessed by Mint, Srinagar recorded 20 cases of stone pelting and Pulwama two cases on Wednesday. On Monday and Tuesday, Srinagar, Pulwama and Bandipora recorded 23 cases of stone-pelting, in which 15 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were injured. The size of the crowds ranged from 40 to 200 across thethree cities.
One person familiar with the development said that while the normal strength of central paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir stands at 350 companies, or 35,000 troops, an additional 300 companies have been deployed, taking the number to 65,000.
“There are no orders of de-induction. We will take a stock of how things are on Eid (12 August) and await orders for that day. As of now, we are keeping very strong vigil and ensuring safety first and foremost," the person added.
Army chief, general Bipin Rawat, on Thursday briefed defence minister Rajnath Singh on the developments in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as along the India-Pakistan border, adding that the forces were on high alert.
Meanwhile, the crackdown and restrictions against political leaders continued. Rajya Sabha leader of the Opposition and Congress party leader from Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad was stopped at the Srinagar airport and sent back to New Delhi.
Former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah are still under detention.
Azad had left Delhi on Thursday to hold a meeting with party leaders at the Pradesh Congress Committee office in Srinagar.
The Congress leader was accompanied by Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir, but both were stopped from leaving the airport.
Differences within the Congress over its stand on the Centre’s move continued on Thursday with senior leader Karan Singh saying he did not agree with blanket condemnation of the government’s decision on Jammu and Kashmir.
“Ladakh’s emergence as UT is to be welcomed...The gender discrimination in Article 35A needed to be addressed as also the long awaited enfranchisement of West Pakistan refugees and reservation for Scheduled Tribes will be welcomed," said Singh in a statement.
Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, general secretary Sitaram Yechury has also written to J&K governor Satyapal Malik, seeking permission to visit Srinagar on Friday to meet the lone CPM legislator Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami in the now dissolved J&K assembly.