A flurry of developments, including fresh deployment of paramilitary forces, in Jammu and Kashmir has triggered worries of another partition of the erstwhile state, although officials claim these are routine developments.
The Valley has been rife with rumours of fresh division of the region for the past couple of days, amid reports of troop build-up in parts of North Kashmir and Jammu and a series of meetings between top government officials from the Union Territory administration and central government in Delhi.
Many locals are publicly expressing fears that Jammu and Kashmir might be partitioned afresh into Jammu and Valley. In 2019, the Narendra Modi government had carved out Ladakh as a separate Union Territory by bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir along with the scrapping of Article 370.
“So many rumours again Statehood for Jammu, UT for Kashmir & you know how true rumours prove specially when it comes to J&K,” tweeted activist Guftar Ahmad, who is from Jammu’s Pir Panchal region. “Do whatever you want we are already on destruction path after abrogation of Article 370. 5th August, 2019, was black day for us.”
Officials said dozens of companies of paramilitary forces are being deployed across the Union Territory, in a throwback to the run-up of abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.
Unlike 2019, the government has not officially reacted to the rumours this time. Back then, the then governor Satya Pal Malik had rebuffed reports of scrapping of Article 35A, which gave exclusive rights to locals over land and jobs, and asked people not to panic. However, what followed was not just the scrapping of Articles 370 and 35A but bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories.
“We want to believe even in rumours rumoured to be rumours. We love rumours don’t we. Last few days has been all about rumours and conspiracies. They say don’t believe a rumour to be true until government actually denies it,” People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone tweeted, betraying the contempt that people harbour for any government clarifications.
Some politicians feared they might land in jail again.
“While rumours are flying thick and fast — should we be ready for second semester? MLA’s hostel 2.0?” tweeted Tanvir Sadiq, an aide of former chief minister Omar Abdullah. Tanvir was among dozens of politicians who were lodged in the MLA hostel after they were arrested in 2019 to prevent protests against the developments.
A police officer said more than 50 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in Jammu and Kashmir in the last few weeks and more are coming but he claimed it was a routine development.
“Around 200 companies were shifted out of J&K for elections in other states and prevent protests against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act). They are being re-inducted. There is no fresh deployment,” an officer said.
In the run-up to the 2019 developments, the Centre had rushed hundreds of companies of paramilitary forces to J&K from other parts of the country, in addition to tens of thousands of troops already deployed here.