Kashmiri politicians Mehbooba Mufti and Shah Faesal reacted with alarm to the Centre’s decision to deploy 100 additional companies of paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir. They said the order had led to anxiety and fear in the state.
The additional companies were deployed to strengthen counter-insurgency operations and maintain law and order, the Hindustan Times reported, citing a letter sent by the Union Home Ministry to the state’s chief secretary, home secretary and police chief on Thursday.
The deployment comprises 50 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force, 30 of Sashastra Seema Bal and 10 each of the Border Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Each company comprises 100 security personnel.
Shah Faesal, who quit the civil services earlier this year to join politics, said the direction was “fueling huge anxiety in Kashmir”, while former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said it had “created fear psychosis” among people.
“No one knows why this sudden mobilization of forces is being done,” Faesal said. “Rumour is that something sinister is about to happen. Article 35a? It is going to be a long night.”
The Article 35A of the Constitution grants special rights and privileges pertaining to jobs and property ownership, among other things, to those defined as “permanent residents” of the state. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules at the Centre, had promised to scrap it in its election manifesto. The state is currently under President’s Rule.
Mufti said the Kashmir problem cannot be solved militarily.
Central Reserve Police Force Inspector General (Kashmir Zone) Rakesh Kumar said that the additional troop deployments were a “routine exercise” to maintain law and order and for conducting counter-insurgency operations. He said there was no need to panic.
In February this year, the Centre had deployed 100 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces following the terrorist attack in Pulwama district that killed 40 personnel of the CRPF.