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Kashmir: Rumour Mills Creating Chaos In The Valley

Rumours about bifurcation of Kashmir and merging Southern districts with Ladakh, thus trying to further reduce the political dominance of Muslims in the Valley has led to panic in Kashmir districts. Actions of the district administration like issuing curfew passes to candidates attending recruitment exams when there is no curfew, collecting information from districts about who were arrested and put in jail after abrogation of Article 370 seem to be lending credence to the rumours.

Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | India Tomorrow

SRINAGAR—It is déjà vu 2019.

Rumour mills are churning to their capacity in Jammu and Kashmir. From downgrading the union territory to giving statehood to Jammu and from severing south Kashmir districts to merging Kashmir with Ladakh, rumour mills are giving sleepless nights to the people.

Memories of August 2019 when the Centre abrogated Article 370 and downgraded Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories have come flooding back. People started panicking fearing a new phase of curfew and internet shutdown.

Social media timelines have been clogged with memes. Pictures and videos of 2019 are shared freely on Facebook and WhatsApp. People started saying goodbye to friends in anticipation of the communication blockade. Not-so-tech-savvy women started making frantic calls to relatives to say hello one last time as if it was time for the apocalypse. 

What added credence to the rumours were sudden meetings of political leaders in New Delhi. Several political leaders suddenly flew to the national capital to meet top central government leadership. A flurry of government orders complicated the issue and added to the chaos.  

An image of a curfew pass issued by district magistrate Srinagar sent people into a tizzy. When there is no curfew anywhere, why curfew passes? Late night, a journalist quoting the district magistrate tweeted that some candidates appearing in interviews for Smart City jobs on June 9 and 10 wanted passes for their hassle-free passage. DC’s office issued the passes.  Usually, any admit card or roll number slip of examinees are being treated passes during curfew. What prompts the government to issue separate passes?

Similarly, an order popped up on social media in which police top brass has asked the subordinate staff to furnish details about the political persons arrested or acted upon (by way of preventive measures) for the last five years including pre- and post-abrogation of Article 370. The details of journalists detained pre- and post-abrogation were also sought.

Another order issued by divisional commissioner Kashmir to five district commissioners about creation/rationalization of new Patwar ‘halqas’ and Girdawar circle sent people into a panic mode.

On top of it, the arrival of paramilitary forces added to the tension as people feared that something is on the anvil. However, police said these companies had gone for poll duties and are now returning. Nothing should be read, they said.

“While rumours are flying thick and fast – should we be ready for the second semester? MLA’s hostel 2.0?” tweeted Tanvir Sadiq, senior National Conference leader.

Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone said believing a lie is an art that the people of India have mastered. “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 b true until govt actually denies it,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) came out of hibernation and held the first meeting after months on Wednesday. The meeting was prompted by the rumours making rounds in the valley.

 “Doors have not been closed for talks with the Centre. If they invite us, then we will decide at the time,” said Dr. Farooq Abdullah, PAGD chief, and National conference President after the meeting.

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