Over 500 political workers detained in Kashmir

Eerie silence prevails in Valley
SRINAGAR, Aug 7:  Over 500 important political workers and leaders, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been detained in Kashmir since the Centre decided to revoke provisions of Article 370 and divide the State to two Union Territories, officials said.
Activists across the political spectrum have been detained in Srinagar as well as other parts of the Valley, they said.
According to latest reports, about 560 such workers have been lodged in makeshift detention centres in Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre in Srinagar and other such centres in Baramulla and Gurez.
Former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah of the National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP have been detained at Hari Niwas on Gupkar road.
Amid the restrictions in place in the city, one person was killed in Noorbagh locality. A group of youngsters had gathered in the area and they were chased by CRPF personnel because of confusion over curfew, they said.
One of the youths jumped into the Jhelum river to escape the wrath of the heavily-armed paramilitary forces, but drowned. There was a protest in the locality but it ended after a cane charging in which six people were injured, they said.
The officials said curfew has not been declared, but authorities have ordered strict implementation of Section 144 of the CrPC which prohibits assembly of over five people in an area.
There are reports of other such clashes from across the Valley but details are still not known because of the clampdown on communication links, they said.
Meanwhile, an eerie silence prevails in the city with concertina wire barricades laid on deserted streets and police and armed forces personnel allowing civilians to move only after thorough checking, although there is no official curfew.
Two days after the Centre’s announcement to scrap special status for Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two Union Territories, people remained confined mostly indoors amid uncertainty as communication links have been snapped by authorities to prevent any disturbances.
The ‘undeclared curfew’ has left many people confused and nervous. Amid the restrictions, an unfortunate incident took place in Noorbagh on the outskirts of the city.
CRPF personnel chased a group of youths who had assembled in the locality and one of the youths who jumped into river Jhelum to escape the wrath of the armed paramilitary forces drowned, officials said.
There was a protest in the locality but it ended after baton charge in which six people were injured, the officials said.
People with only urgent work are being allowed to move in the city. They are being subjected to intense checking repeatedly at force pickets where uniformed personnel have discretion to allow them passage or turn them back.
In the absence of any public or private transportation, locals are resorting to taking lift to reach the airport.
Aadil Dar, a Systems Engineer at a multi-national company in Gurgaon, is returning from the Valley to join duties after a brief visit to his parents here.
With no private or public transport available, he was heading towards Srinagar airport, nearly 14 km from Srinagar City centre, with his luggage trying to get a lift.
“I had come for a brief visit before Eid. I knew it will be difficult to be with them during Eid. I could not find any transport to the airport. So I decided to walk,” he said.
There is complete restriction on information flow — telecommunication facilities like data, voice and land line.
“We do not know how long this will continue. There is no way we can know the welfare of our near and dear ones. There is no contact with anyone from outside Kashmir or even within the city,” said Imtiyaz Beigh, manager of the hotel, who wants to know about his family in the border town of Kupwara.
People were seen lined up outside the pickets trying to argue with the soldiers and paramilitary personnel to let them pass. Some have medical conditions, some have to reach the airport, some have to purchase essentials.
The personnel are checking and verifying documents, identity cards, with some unlucky ones being turned away.
The authorities have not imposed curfew in the city but Section 144 of CrPC which prohibits assembly of five or more persons in an area is being “strictly imposed”, an official said.
Any public movement except in extremely needy cases has been barred and all educational institutions are closed, the official said. (PTI)