Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration has announced the imposition of strict curfew across the restive region on August 4 and 5, citing ‘specific inputs about violent protests’ on the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370.
The first order to this effect was issued by Shahid Choudhary, District Magistrate and Development Commissioner for Srinagar. It said that the “Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, has reported that a series of inputs have been received suggesting that separatist and Pak (Pakistan)-sponsored groups are planning to observe 5th August, 2020 as Black Day, therein apprehension of protests are not ruled out. Therefore, I, hereby order complete restrictions on public movement/ curfew in the territorial jurisdiction of District Srinagar.”
The order added that “these restrictions shall come into force with immediate effect and shall remain in force on 4th and 5th of August, 2020.”
Soon after the order, it became known that the administration has decided to enforce curfew in the entire Kashmir Valley for the next two days.
Immediately, there was outrage in Kashmir from some political parties and social media users.
Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, four-time member of the J&K Legislative Assembly and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader, took a jibe at the government, saying that it was celebrating the anniversary of removal of J&K’s special status by imposing curfew. “Government of India is celebrating the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 by imposing strict curfew in Kashmir in its own unique way,” Tarigami told The Federal.
In fact, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on its 21st foundation day had resolved to observe August 5 as a ‘Black Day.’
Waheed Parra, president of the J&K PDP’s youth wing, told The Federal that “the people of Kashmir were collectively served rounds of humiliation and insult. Those who believed in the universal principles of democracy and secularism were treated as criminals and punished in detention. And now, we have a curfew to celebrate the anniversary.”
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter took to Twitter to express outrage. “As expected, ‘normalcy acrobatics’ for 5th August is underway with the imposition of Section 144 in Srinagar along with additional deployment of troops & (and) the city lost in a maze of concertina wires, police vans & barricades,” Iltija Mufti wrote on Mehbooba Mufti’s Twitter handle as she has been handling her mother’s Twitter account for over six months now.
In its order, the J&K administration also said that any gathering of protesters would be detrimental to the efforts related to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 5, 2019, the BJP government revoked Article 370, Article 35(A) amid unprecedented communication blockade, strict curfew and arrests of thousands of people including three former chief ministers. Though the government has released Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, another former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti continues to remain under detention at her Srinagar Gupkar residence named Fair View.
Omar Abdullah said, “the preparations start a full 24 hours earlier this year compared to 2019 with Srinagar, and I presume the same is being done across the valley, being placed under strict curfew from tonight for the next two days.” Omar Abdullah said this in a tweet while sharing the order of the Srinagar district magistrate.
Khurram Parvez, Kashmir’s prominent human rights defender and coordinator of J&K Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), told The Federal that “the harsh lockdown has been used as a shield by the government in the last three months to hastily implement changes in legislation in Jammu and Kashmir, which the government expected would have met with resistance on the ground.”
“The imposition of curfew around the anniversary of abrogation of Article 370 and 35(A) reveals how much the Government of India lacks confidence on what it has been imposing on Kashmiris unilaterally and undemocratically,” Parvez added.
Meanwhile, the J&K administration, in its order, also said that “there are specific inputs about violent protests endangering public life and property.” According to the government order, medical emergencies and movement of staff on COVID-19 duty with pass/valid cards shall be exempted from the restrictions.