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Panic In The Valley: Here’s What’s Going On In Jammu And Kashmir Right Now

The curtailment of the Amarnath Yatra, along with thousands of troops being deployed has hurled J&K into a state of uncertainty.

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir appears to be tense. Not only did the government of India curtail the Amarnath Yatra 14 days ahead of schedule, but additional security forces — around 10,000 men — have been deployed in the state as well.

As per a report in The Indian Express, both of these orders have caused panic in the state. People have reportedly been queueing up at petrol pumps, grocery shops and ATMs, to stock up on supplies. Tourists are packing up to leave. The National Institute of Technology in Srinagar too issued a notice that all classes would remain suspended till further notice.

But even amidst panic and uncertainty, there seems to be little news about why the situation is such.

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Speaking to The Indian Express, Additional DGP (Law and Order) Munir Khan said, “We have inputs of a major militant strike on the Yatra and the tourists… That’s why this decision.”

As per a report in The Hindustan Times, the deployment of forces followed the recovery of a large ammunition cache, a Pakistan-made anti-personnel mine, and a US-made sniper rifle along the Yatra route. The report further added that intelligence reports had highlighted the increased possibility of suicide bombing attacks in the Kashmir valley.

Another report in The Hindustan Times suggests that as per security inputs, Ibrahim Azhar, elder brother of JeM chief Masood Azhar, was sighted in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) last month. The report quotes a senior J&K police officer saying, “With major threat coming from Pakistan-based groups, particularly JeM, and the recovery of an M24 sniper rifle and anti-personnel mines along the Amarnath pilgrimage route, the government decided not to take chances and curtailed the Yatra. With personnel freed from yatra duties, the security forces can now concentrate on the counter-insurgency grid.”

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But there may be more to it than security threats to the Yatra. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter on Friday evening to ask: “Friends staying in hotels in Gulmarg are being forced to leave. State road transport Corpn buses are being deployed to bus people out from Pahalgam & Gulmarg. If there is a threat to the Yatra, why is Gulmarg being emptied?”

The National Conference leader further said, “I have so many questions & not a single answer. I’ve met people today who occupy important positions to do with J&K, not one of them was able to tell me anything, and I’ve been CM for six years. Imagine the plight of your everyday Kashmiri who doesn’t know what to believe.”

Many seem to speculate that the deployment of troops may have something to do with a major decision on the horizon regarding Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

As per The Hindu, on Friday, parties in the state warned the Centre against any dilution in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“India has finally failed to win over the love of J&K, which rejected divisions on religious grounds and chose secular India. The gloves are finally off, and India has chosen territory over people,” Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti said. She added that India “seems to be preparing to rob J&K of whatever little is left to protect its unique identity.”

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Governor Satya Pal Malik, however, said that “unnecessary panic” was being created by linking the Amarnath Yatra decision with other issues, and requested political leaders to ask their supporters to maintain calm and not believe in “exaggerated rumours”.

“A pure security measure is being mixed up with issues with which it has no connection. That is the cause of the panic,” Malik said.

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