Ajit Doval's Street Chat With Kashmiris Amid Lockdown
NEW DELHI: National Security Adviser Ajit Doval was seen chatting with locals in the Kashmir Valley on Wednesday in visuals that emerged in the middle of a continuing lockdown to head off any backlash over the centre's decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of special status and split it into two Union Territories.
Mr Doval was seen sharing a meal of traditional Kashmiri Wazwan served on the streets by a handful of residents in Shopian, with shuttered shops in the background and a ban on large gatherings in place.
"How is everything? What do you people think," the top security officer asks the group; one of them replies, "Everything is good".
"Yes, everything will be fine. Everyone should live peacefully. Whatever the almighty does is good. Your security and well-being is our only concern. We are thinking about the growth and welfare of your generations," Mr Doval said, according to news agency ANI.
He also met with security personnel in Shopian. "The nation knows it can rely on the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force)... From left wing extremism to terrorism in Kashmir, CRPF has proved itself," he said in a pep-talk to the soldiers.
The visuals sought to project normalcy in Kashmir after incidents of stone-throwing and violent protests during which protesters were allegedly chased by the police in Srinagar.
Over 300 political leaders remain in custody as part of the government's measures since midnight on Sunday to avoid trouble.
Former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, who were placed under house arrest hours before Home Minister Amit Shah announced that Jammu and Kashmir would no longer enjoy special status under Article 370 of the constitution, remain in safehouses they were moved to on Monday.
It is not known yet when they will be released.
Over 40,000 troops are in Jammu and Kashmir, sent over the past weeks in the government's meticulous preps for its Article 370 move.
As part of a complete communications blackout, phone services and internet connections remain suspended. Top officials are using satellite phones to communicate.
Mr Doval, who flew to Kashmir on Monday, has been delivering situation reports from the ground to Delhi.
While outsiders can move around Srinagar by just using their airline tickets as passes, local people cannot move around freely unless they produce documents to prove an emergency.
Security officers in Jammu and Kashmir have assured that the situation is calm, barring incidents like stone-throwing.
It is not known yet whether the restrictions will be off for Friday prayers or the Eid festival.