Troops, Jails, 'Mobile' Judges: How Centre Prepped For J&K Announcement

Satellite phones, which have been widely distributed to security forces and wireless communications, form the backbone of the communications grid at the moment in Jammu and Kashmir

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Troops, Jails, 'Mobile' Judges: How Centre Prepped For J&K Announcement

A decision had been taken to remove mobile broadband services by Sunday night in Kashmir


Srinagar: 

Eleven days ago, the Home Ministry gave officials in Jammu and Kashmir a deadline - August 5, 2019. By this date, they were required to flood the state with paramilitary forces to tackle any fallout of the government's decision to scrap Article 370 and spilt the state into two union territories, sources told NDTV.

Senior government officials in Jammu and Kashmir knew what was likely to come - they were certain of an official announcement today.

By 2 pm Monday, the state administration was ready.

Senior officials of the Jammu and Kashmir government told NDTV the steps on the ground are "unprecedented" and that such measures "have never been taken since 1971," when India and Pakistan fought a war that resulted in the liberation of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

It all began with the deployment of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. At least 430 companies of CRPF troops were deployed in their positions by early evening on Sunday - in all 43,000 personnel of the paramilitary force.

Most of these troops were flown in by the Indian Air Force in recently acquired C-17 Globemaster transport planes. IAF officials say this was an almost warlike deployment that saw more than one hundred sorties of the aircraft being operated in less than a week. CRPF troops were flown in from across the country.

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To deal with a large scale breakdown in law and order, 60 additional special executive magistrates have been deployed

On the ground, a decision had been taken to remove mobile broadband services by late Sunday night. By 11 pm on Sunday, mobile broadband was gone in most of Srinagar, cell phone connectivity was erratic and by 4 am on Monday, landlines were not functioning in several parts of Srinagar. The goal was very clear - control the flow of information, prevent rumours to ensure there is no violent reaction.

Satellite phones, which have been widely distributed to security forces, and wireless communications form the backbone of the communications grid at the moment.

To deal with a large scale breakdown in law and order, with riots being the biggest concern, 60 additional special executive magistrates have been deployed. They have been described as "mobile magistrates," empowered to make speedy arrests and assist security forces.

Those arrested in Greater Srinagar area would be housed in at least six temporary jails, which have been prepared with large scale arrests in mind. Government doctors across the state who were not on duty have been ordered to report for any eventuality, though access to hospitals is being strictly regulated to only one patient and one attendant.

Guesthouses have been sealed after Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists were ordered to leave the state on Friday last, with security forces citing an imminent terror threat.

Perhaps, for the first time, the state administration in Srinagar ordered outstation journalists to move out of their hotels and shift into Sarovar Portico hotel in a heavily defended part of central Srinagar.

Government officials say this was done to "ensure the safety" of journalists in the area. The entire area between Radio Kashmir and Nishat Gardens has been secured with Section 144, which restricts the gathering of more than four people in a place, and across several parts of the state.

Though banks do have enough cash and fuel stocks are plentiful, the possibility of curfew being imposed means that banks and fuel stations may be shut.

On how long the security clampdown would continue, a senior government officials said, "Expect this to be a long haul", which is likely to continue till August 15.



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