After the arrest of around 200 Jamaat-e-Islami workers and separatist leaders, a slew of government orders, including asking all chief medical officers to take stock of the drugs and medicine available, has pushed Kashmir Valley into an unprecedented state of panic.
On Saturday night, long queues were seen outside the petrol pumps in Srinagar and people were seen stocking up on food items and baby food from the half-closed grocery shops. On Sunday, the petrol pumps are running dry and the rush at the grocery shops continues.
The divisional commissioner Kashmir on Saturday asked for rationing of fuel in the division. Later the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, which provides ration to people through its outlets, directed its staff in south Srinagar to ensure the complete sale of food grains in their respective areas by Saturday evening. The outlets were also directed to keep the ration depots and sale outlets open on Sunday as well. Another order was issued by the ADGP armed Munir Ahmed Khan directing all the IGPs Armed that all the “manpower posted” be kept ready for law and order deployment.
The series of government orders came after the Union Home Ministry ordered deployment of 100 companies of the BSF and ITBP in the Valley. All of this has led to speculation that either preparation for war between India and Pakistan is going or that Article 35A would be revoked. Senior police and civil officers were clueless about the orders.
Though Governor Satya Pal Malik late last night dispelled the rumours that the government has no intention to revoke Article 35A which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, panic continues to dominate the Valley. The Governor said the deployment of the forces in the Valley is for the election induction as the Election Commission of India’s team is visiting the State next week. “But the ECI is not visiting Kashmir for the first time. We have never seen this kind of exercise and such orders,” said a civil official.
On Sunday, the Governor, through the statement issued by the Governor's office, appealed to the people not to believe in rumours of any extreme nature which are circulating widely in some quarters, and to remain calm. "These rumours, the Governor said, are unnecessarily creating an atmosphere of fear in the minds of people, leading to stress and disruption to normal life. "Rumours about curfews and other actions should not be believed,” the Governor said in a statement.
However, at the same time, the Governor said “there is some security-related action being taken by the forces, but this is purely related to the Pulwama attack which is an unprecedented one. The response of security forces is guided solely by the need to counter both the impact and any further action that may be taken by terrorist groups who are still out to disrupt our country and its democratic processes,” he added.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Shahid Choudhary on Sunday morning said that there has been an acute shortage of fuel and stocks almost for a day. He said with an additional fleet of 250 tankers reaching the Valley in a few hours, Kashmir will have one week's supply in place.
However, such assurances have not eased the tension.
Many in Kashmir also believe that they are been subjected to "Psychological Operations" or "psyops" in order to prevent them from protesting against the arrests of around 200 Jamaat-e-Islami workers and separatist leaders.
Former Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and “briefed him about the sense of panic that is prevailing in the Valley at the moment.” According to former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Dr Abdullah has requested the union
government to step in with a statement and steps that reassure people. Dr Abdullah also talked to the Home Minister about “panic buying in the markets and the way petrol pumps have run dry and how speculations about possible developments has worsened the already tense situation,” Omar said in his tweets. However, the government of India has not come up with any statement on the issue so far.
Dr Farooq Abdullah briefed @rajnathsingh Sb about the panic buying in the markets & the way petrol pumps have run dry and how speculation about possible developments has worsened an already tense situation.— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) February 23, 2019
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Twitter said that there is a sense of unease and panic in Kashmir. “Nobody has a clue about what is to come but an ominous feeling of impending doom hangs in the air. In such a surcharged atmosphere, public anger has been diverted towards Kashmiris,” Mehbooba said.
There is a sense of unease and panic in Kashmir. Nobody has a clue about what is to come but an ominous feeling of impending doom hangs in the air. In such a surcharged atmosphere, public anger has been diverted towards Kashmiris.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) February 24, 2019
“They have never been subjected to this kind of unbridled hostility. You want Kashmir yet wage a war against its people? What are they being punished for? Why brutalise them?,” Mehbooba tweeted.
IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal issued an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying it's a "doomsday feeling".
“Prime Minister @narendramodi We haven't slept last night and we don't know whether we are going to wake up alive tomorrow. People are avoiding movement & hoarding essential items; it is a doomsday feeling. Can someone tell us whats happening here? Kashmir wants
peace,” Faesal tweeted.
Prime Minister @narendramodi— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) February 23, 2019
We haven't slept last night and we don't know whether we are going to wake up alive tomorrow.
People are avoiding movement & hoarding essential items; it is a doomsday feeling.
Can someone tell us whats happening here?
Kashmir wants peace. https://t.co/OdyuJorAce