Curfew in Kashmir a year after Union territory move, Article 370 scrapped


Intl desk, Aug 04: Curfew has been imposed in Kashmir valley on Tuesday and Wednesday as the country’s newest Union Territory marks a year since it was formed. The Srinagar district magistrate in an order said they have got information about “separatists and Pakistan sponsored groups planning to observe August 5 as Black Day”.

“…Protests are not ruled out. There are specific inputs about violent protests endangering public life and property,” the order for Srinagar district said, though the curfew is applicable across Kashmir valley, NDTV reported.

People engaged in essential services amid the COVID-19 pandemic are allowed to move, the order said.

Similar curfew had been imposed from early August last year after the centre scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and divided the state into two Union Territories, the other being Ladakh. Hundreds of political leaders had been detained or arrested. Many leaders are still under house arrest, including former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.

The order for the fresh curfew also said the measures will reinforce COVID-19 restrictions that are already in place at containment zones. “…Movement and assembly of people have been prohibited to avoid spread (of COVID-19) particularly in wake of recent spike. Thus, any mass gathering would be detrimental to efforts related to COVID-19 containment as well,” the district magistrate said.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah, who was released on March 11 after nearly eight months in detention, tweeted the “preparations (for restrictions) start a full 24 hours earlier this year compared to 2019.”

“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,” tweeted Mr Abdullah, whose father Farooq Abdullah, also a former chief minister, was freed on March 13.

Mehbooba Mufti, under detention since August 5 last year, has been booked under the stringent Public Safety Act for another three months.

The move comes on a day when People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone was released from detention on July 31, just five days short of a year since he was detained over protest against the centre’s move in Jammu and Kashmir. With this three-month extension, the People’s Democratic Party chief will spend over a year in detention.