Three policemen and a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker were killed, hundreds of civilians collided with the police, and former head minister Farooq Abdullah was Wednesday a target of demonstrators in a sudden escalation of tensions in Jammu and Kashmir that coincided with the arrival of the new governor-designated Satya Pal Malik of the state.
Malik, according to officials in the state who asked not to be named, will probably be sworn in on Thursday to take charge of the administration of the state – replacing NN Vohra, who held the position since 2008.
Kashmir has been under governor's rule since June 20 after the last government – a coalition between the BJP and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) – collapsed. This is the fourth period of Governor & # 39; s Rule since Vohra took up the position, which often required him to be a crisis manager – a role that Malik will now inherit.
The first indications of this came on Wednesday, when new skirmishes broke out when hundreds of people protested against the BJP during a court hearing on Article 35A – a law that limits what people from outside the state can do in Jammu and Kashmir. Separatist organizations have called for a two-day shutdown from Sunday against the hearing in the Supreme Court.
In attacks that accused police spokespersons of militants, two agents and a BJP worker who had been abducted on Tuesday evening were murdered. The bullet-riddled body of BJP & # 39; s Shabir Ahmad Bhat was found in the fields in Kupwara. A constable who was killed when he went out to offer Eid prayers in Kulgam was assassinated by militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, a police officer added.
Shortly after the Eid prayer on Wednesday, protests broke out in different parts of the valley. The police fired tear-off shells and pellets and loaded people with sticks to disperse crowds in different districts.
Around six people were injured in these skirmishes. Most demonstrators were raising anti-India slogans, as some waved flags of Pakistan and the Islamic State, eyewitnesses said. A spokesman for the police tried to downplay the confrontations and said that the prayers were predominantly peaceful.
Former Prime Minister Farooq Abdullah also became entangled in the protests when he offered Eid prayers in Dargah Hazratbal. People standing behind him began to shout slogans to India and showed off their shoes to the politician, who was snatched from the mosque by his guards.
"I did not leave the room and completed my prayers, it was my own people, they were deceived and I can not escape my duty to be their leader," Abdullah later told PTI news agency while receiving people in his home.
On Wednesday evening the police said that militants invaded Inspector Muhammad Ashraf Dar's home in the village of Larve in Pulwama district.
"They shot at the officer up close and resulted in his death on the spot," said a policeman.
A new governor for Jammu and Kashmir was not unexpected, because Vohra's term would initially end on June 28th. The government of the Union had said at the time that he wanted him to stay longer because the annual Amarnath Yatra was about to begin. The Hindu pilgrimage requires careful preparation and monitoring from the point of view of safety.
Malik, who was received by the top board and police officers at Srinagar airport on Wednesday, will take an oath in Rajbhawan at 11 am before chairing his first security review on Thursday, according to a public administration official who did not want the name.
In addition to the gubernatorial change in Jammu and Kashmir, the election of a new Pakistani prime minister – cricket player – from politician Imran Khan – may also have consequences for the region.
(With imports of PTI in Srinagar and HTC in New Delhi)
Published for the first time: August 22, 2018 23:20 IST