National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Saturday said he was “fully convinced” that a majority of the population in Jammu and Kashmir supported the revocation of the state’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, PTI reported. Doval said that restrictions in Kashmir were an attempt to “protect life of Kashmiris from Pakistani terrorists”.
“I am fully convinced that a majority of Kashmiris totally support the abrogation of Article 370,” Doval was quoted as saying at an interaction with a group of journalists in New Delhi. “They [Kashmiris] see greater opportunities, a better future, more jobs for youths. There is a vocal minority that opposes it. It appears to people that that is the voice of the people. That is not necessarily true.”
Doval added that restrictions had been relaxed gradually with prohibitory orders still in place only in 10 out of 199 police districts in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. All landlines were restored across these three regions, he said.
Jammu and Kashmir was put under prohibitory orders and an unprecedented communications blackout on August 4 as the government prepared to announce the revocation of the region’s autonomy. Prohibitory orders are being lifted gradually but the communications blockade remains in many parts. Some protests have been reported in the region after the decision.
“We would like to see all restrictions go, depends on how Pakistan behaves, it’s a stimulant and response situation,” ANI quoted Doval as saying. “If Pakistan starts behaving, terrorists don’t intimidate and infiltrate, if Pakistan stops sending signals through its towers to operatives, we can lift restrictions.”
‘230 Pakistani terrorists spotted in India’
Doval claimed that Pakistan was bent on creating trouble in the region and added that some militants had infiltrated India from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He cited an alleged militant attack in Sopore as an example. Two militants allegedly went to the home of Hamidullah Rather, a fruit merchant in Sopore, to threaten him on Friday. They shot Rather’s 25-year-old son, Mohammad Irashad, and his two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, whose condition is currently critical.
Islamabad was trying to create disruptions and 230 “Pakistani terrorists” had been spotted, Doval said, adding that some of the infiltrators had been arrested. The NSA added that there were Pakistani communication towers about 20 kilometre from the border, and these were trying to communicate with the militants. Intercepted communications showed that the militants were reprimanded for not doing their job of disrupting peace in Kashmir efficiently.
Doval claimed that political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir were legally detained as a preventive measure, and said that the government was answerable to the courts and would have to pay a hefty penalty if they did something extra-judicial. He added that none of the leaders were charged with a criminal offence or sedition and were detained only to control any situations that may have arisen due to gatherings.
Several leaders in Jammu and Kashmir were put under house arrest after the state lost its special status. While there were no reports from former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, leaders like Shah Faesal challenged their detainment in court.
‘Article 370 a tool of the political class’
He added that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was improving and claimed that only one incident of a youth succumbing to injuries was reported. However, Lieutenant General KJS Dhillon told the media last week that five civilians had died since August 5, and blamed Pakistan for it.
Doval added that 92.5% of the geographical area in Jammu and Kashmir was without restrictions. “Article 370 was only a tool of the political class to make money through corruption,” Doval said. “For the common man there was nothing.”
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