'On Edge': Omar Abdullah Meets J&K Governor as Uncertainty Grips the State

Omar Abdullah met Governor Satya Pal Malik, “who assured him there was no initiate in progress to dilute Article 35A, start delimitation or trifurcate".

New Delhi: As fear and confusion gripped the state of Jammu and Kashmir over an advisory issued by the state government asking Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to cut short their stay, former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti alleged that the Valley was “on edge” and that the Centre had failed to clarify recent developments.

Former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, accompanied by a JKNC delegation, met governor Satya Pal Malik and subsequently addressed a press conference.

“We spoke about Article 370 and even trifurcation with the governor. He has assured us that nothing of this sort is going to happen, no announcement as such are to be made. The Governor has assured no announcement on Article 370, 35A and trifurcation,” said Omar Abdullah, addressing the press conference.

Abdullah also stressed that it was pertinent that the Central government issue a statement in parliament on Monday over the prevailing situation in J&K. “We don’t want silence from the government of India. We want to hear from the government in Parliament. The government should realise that it is not in their interest to have a restive Jammu and Kashmir,” added the former J&K chief minister.

Previously, J&K governor Satya Pal Malik had claimed that there was “unnecessary panic” being created by linking the curtailment of Amarnath Yatra with other issues, and had requested political leaders to ask their supporters to maintain calm and not believe in “exaggerated rumours”.

A delegation consisting of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, J&K Peoples Movement chief Shah Faesal and Peoples Conference leaders Sajjad Lone and Imran Reza Ansari expressed concerns about uncertainty and a situation of panic in Kashmir Valley following the advisory issued by the government asking Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to return as soon as possible.

“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, requesting leaders to ask their supporters “not to mix up matters, to maintain calm and not believe exaggerated rumours being circulated all around”.

Also read: As Govt Tells Amarnath Yatris, Tourists to Leave Kashmir, Valley Struck by Fear of the Unknown

Malik had said in Baramulla and Srinagar that there were no plans to abrogate Article 35A of the constitution, which gives special powers to Jammu and Kashmir.

The delegation led by Mufti to meet the governor came hours after the PDP president alleged that New Delhi seemed to be preparing “to rob” the people of Jammu and Kashmir of “whatever little is left to protect their unique identity”.

“You failed to win over the love of a single Muslim majority state which rejected division on religious grounds and chose secular India. The gloves are finally off & India has chosen territory over people,” the Peoples Democratic Party leader tweeted.

Addressing a press conference at her residence in the evening, Mufti questioned why an atmosphere of fear was being created if the prime minister wants to win the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir.

“I am sure the people of the country want the people of J&K and not just the land. But the situation is such that it seems you think about J&K as an issue of territory. The whole territory is with you already,” she said.

Mehbooba said J&K was the only Muslim majority state which rejected the two-nation theory and joined with a secular and democratic India under difficult times on the conditions that its unique identity would be protected.

“There are constitutional guarantees for its protection. Today, it seems that attempts are being made to end those constitutional guarantees. There are many rumours. If you attack the state’s special identity for which the people have rendered immense sacrifices, then I think it is an excess on the people whose repercussions would not be good,” she said.

Mehbooba said she would meet leaders of other political parties in the valley to build a consensus over the issue and put up a united fight.

After the press conference, she called on NC president Farooq Abdullah, Peoples Conference leaders Sajad Lone and Imran Ansari, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement leader Shah Faesal.

“After a brief discussion, we called on Shri Satyapal Malik ji, Governor J&K & requested him to dispel rumours that’ve caused a sense of panic in the valley. Thankful to Farooq sahab, @sajadlone, @imranrezaansari and @shahfaesal for their time today,” she tweeted.

Earlier in the day, the former chief minister expressed hope that Kashmir would not be “used as a red herring to distract masses from the real issues”.

“Ideally some sort of clarification should’ve been issued. Instead, a misinformation campaign is being run while an uneasy calm prevails in Kashmir,” she said as the valley remained on the edge even as a fresh order asking Amarnath yatris and tourists to leave Kashmir was issued by the state administration.

In the aftermath of the order, people started buying essentials and lining up at petrol pumps to fill their vehicle fearing disturbances in the law and order situation.

“Complete chaos on the streets of Srinagar. People rushing to ATMs, petrol pumps & stocking up on essential supplies. Is GOI only concerned about the safety of yatris while Kashmiris have been left to their own devices?” she said as the city witnessed traffic jams at several places.

Also read: Omar Seeks CBI Inquiry Into ‘Fake Orders’ on Kashmir Circulating on Social Media

NIT suspends classes

In light of the uncertain security situation in Kashmir, the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar suspended its classes on Saturday until further orders.

While the order for the suspension of classes issued by the Registrar of NIT on Friday claimed to have been “issued in accordance with the instructions received from the District Administration Srinagar, the District Magistrate Srinagar Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said no instructions were given to shut the institute.

“In wake of unstoppable rumours, heads of all institutions were advised in the day to remain careful. No advise/instructions for shutting down any institution. This NIT notice is apparently a miscommunication,” Choudhary said on Twitter.

(With inputs from PTI)