The Jammu and Kashmir Police have ordered five zonal superintendents of police in Srinagar to submit details of mosques in areas under their jurisdiction, Greater Kashmir reported on Monday.
“Please provide details of mosques and their management falling within your respective jurisdictions as per enclosed proforma immediately for onward submission to higher authorities,” read the order issued by Srinagar Senior Superintendent of Police Haseeb Mughal. The senior police official told The Indian Express that it was an exercise to update the basic beat book of the police stations, and pointed out that it was done periodically. He, however, maintained that the “timing of the letter is wrong”.
Mughal’s clarification came after the order, which was shared widely on social media, added to the speculation that the Centre might attempt to do away with Article 35A of Constitution, which grants special rights and privileges pertaining to jobs and property ownership, among other things, to the state’s permanent residents. The speculations started after the Centre last week decided to send an additional 100 companies of central armed paramilitary forces to the Kashmir Valley. On Saturday, a Railway Protection Force official in Budgam asked employees to stock up on ration for at least four months and take other steps due to “forecast of deteriorating situation” in the Valley “for a long period”, Greater Kashmir reported. The railways, however, clarified that the official’s letter had no basis and he had no authority to issue it.
Peoples Democratic Party president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she had requested National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah to convene an all-party meeting in view of the panic allegedly spreading in the Valley. “Need of the hour is to come together and forge a united response,” she said. “We the people of Kashmir need to stand up as one.” On Sunday, Mufti had warned the Centre that repealing Article 35A would be “akin to setting a powder keg on fire”.
Farooq Abdullah’s son and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said his party was focusing on understanding the Centre’s position before convening such a meeting. “Before calling senior leaders from other parties in Jammu and Kashmir to discuss the current situation it is important to try to understand from the central government about their intentions for the state and also how they see the situation at the moment,” he tweeted.
On Sunday, former state legislator Sheikh Abdul Rashid had accused the Centre of “trying to create fear psychosis” among the people of the state, and demanded that it clarify reports of additional security forces being moved to the state. Senior police officers have described the deployment of extra forces as a routine exercise.
“If somebody is causing panic or rumor on social media, then I should not be countering it,” ANI quoted Governor Satya Pal Malik’s adviser Vijay Kumar as saying. “What is the source of this rumor? It will not be proper for me to keep reverting every time.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules at the Centre, had promised to scrap Article 35A in its election manifesto. The ruling party also wants to remove Article 370 of the Constitution that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament’s power to make laws concerning the state. The state is under President’s Rule at present.