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How Amit Shah, Ajit Doval managed to stun everyone on Article 370 despite telltale signs

Officials in J&K say a number of contingency plans were drawn out & discussed in meetings, but without any clarity as to why this was being done.

D.K. Singh and Azaan Javaid
Amit Shah outside Parliament | Praveen Jain | ThePrint

Srinagar: The NDA government had made preparations to thwart possible misadventures by Pakistan before it revoked Article 370 that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir. This included alerting the Army, the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) about the possibility of a “tough decision” at least two weeks in advance.

“How is the situation (on the border)? If something drastic happens, are we ready?” K. Vijay Kumar, adviser to Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, had enquired from his representatives after they emerged out of the unified command meeting in the third week of July.

“We should be ready for some tough decision on Kashmir,” Kumar had said, a security official, privy to the deliberations, told ThePrint. The official did not wish to be identified.

When Home Minister Amit Shah visited the Valley between 26-27 June, he had dropped enough hints. In his interaction with top officials of the paramilitary forces, he had told them that they should be “vigilant” and the government wouldn’t hesitate even if it had to take any “kathin nirnaya” or tough decision for national security.

ThePrint spoke to five senior officials in the security establishment and two in J&K bureaucracy to piece together the sequence of events, leading to Shah moving a proposal to nullify Article 370 in the Rajya Sabha on 5 August. None of the officials, however, had any inkling of the exact plan.

‘Something big’ was going to happen

In the third week of July, when National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval visited the Valley, he had wide-ranging discussions on the situation on the ground, but he gave out nothing. The NSA also visited Amarnath cave, giving an impression to officials that he was reviewing security arrangements in view of the then-ongoing Amarnath Yatra.

Top security officials sensed something would be done after the yatra was over, possibly after 15 August, the Independence Day. It was only when there was “substantial deployment” of BSF followed by that of the CRPF in the last week of July that they thought “something big” was going to happen.

“But we thought it could be Article 35A. Never did we have any inkling about the abrogation of Article 370,” conceded a senior paramilitary force official.

J&K police, administration were also clueless

Jammu and Kashmir police, and administration officials remained clueless, with reports coming in from Delhi that the additional troops could be there in preparation for elections or due to some intelligence inputs about possible terror attacks.

J&K administration officials said a number of contingency plans were drawn out and discussed in meetings without any clarity about why this was being done.

“Officially, we were told it had to do with flood preparedness, but we could feel there was a different agenda,” said a senior state government official, requesting anonymity.

The erstwhile state had witnessed massive floods in 2014. Every summer, the J&K administration holds meetings to check its preparedness for natural calamities. Issues such as air evacuation, stocking up of rations and gas, and even alternative routes from Jammu to Srinagar were discussed in such meetings in the last week of July and the first week of August.

The reason cited for such contingency measures were adverse climate conditions.

Officials jocularly say that the “success” of the Centre’s contingency plans to deal with the fallout of Article 370 has much to do with the failure to put the same in place after the demonetisation in 2016.

The Shah-Doval-Kumar trio clearly managed to spook everyone with the decision, despite all the telltale signs there for all to see.


Also read: Jailed Kashmiri journalist who won US media award was arrested after Burhan Wani profile


 

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Annexure of Kashmir with Indian union was a Headache of Govt after Independence. Selfish King signed with India but his People were against it. Then Pakistan used its tricky public to capture some parts of Kashmir based on Religion. Jammu & Leh are suffering due to Selfish rulers and Kashmir & Kargil only enjoyed these 370 & 35A. Either that State must be annexed as Hyderabad already or Leftout Freely. But keeping headache for so many Years and sending our Country budget for the looting leaders of Kashmir was a Foolish practice. Now atleast they decided to take Stubborn decision in Parliament with 2/3rd majority. Bringing Peace of mind among Confused Kashmiris will take long time…but will understand soon that being with India for development is better than with poor Pakistan. Making them to understand this earlier in-between separatist and loot leaders will be a great Challenge for Govt now. Anyway they are managing to avoid Killings of public in state by Curfew on Troubleful guys and areas, only injuries are reported and No death so far. This is the difference between Indian govt and China-Pakistan Govt in their Country as said by UN Human rights commission. Speedy action in Communication to public against their fears and Benefits of present action must be done by Govt in Kashmir & Kargil. ‘United we Stand’ in development without religious mentality must be spread among all there like in other parts of India.

  2. We and our present day leaders should realise building and making takes a lot of time. Erasing and demolishing for whatsoever reasons are easy consequence takes longer. Hope for the best.

    • And who all are Kashmiris in Kashmir now ?
      There were all flushed out 30 years back. Those who you call Kashmiris are ALL decendents of invaders.
      Who asked original inhabitants of this land…their consent, their struggles, their hardships, their emotions ? And loss of their loved ones, brutal tortures, rapes. I can’t come up with right words as words can never justify that pain.
      Beside no one and NOTHING comes before nation.

  3. [ In continuation-3] All said and done good news keeps pouring in. The Union Territory of J&K will have peace and prosperity. Jai Hind.

  4. [ In continuation. Have lost too many submissions halfway through being typed ] 2. Felt happy / relieved to read that feelers are being sent to former CMs Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. Seventy years of the mainstream politics of Kashmir cannot be scrubbed clean like a school blackboard. If true, it marks welcome recognition that this issue is incredibly more complex than the narrative presently at work. Almost three weeks now, and Kashmir is still shut down. A completely sanitised version of what is happening is being offered. Intuition suggests foreign governments may have conveyed concerns in private. I think events will not follow a neat Bollywood script.

  5. The failed terrorist entity that goes by the name “Pakistan” has been cornered. 72 years of pursuing geostrategic games, and promoting religious extremism have bankrupted and beggared them.

    Their biggest hope is somehow incite large scale violence in JK and get the “international attention”. Modi-Shah-Doval team should defeat this plan.

  6. Some things require stealth, speed, overwhelming force. Like India beating Pakistan to the Siachen glacier. One is not sure Article 370 falls in that category. It has been there for a long time and abolishing it has been an article of faith for the ruling party for almost as long. It was possible to follow normal constitutional procedures to reach that objective, most important of all, the willingness and support of the people of the state. The Constituent Assembly cannot be recreated, but a fairly elected State Assembly would have added popular legitimacy. For a decision that will alter the political landscape of the state, for generations, such haste may not have been required. 2.

    • ”It was possible to follow normal constitutional procedures to reach that objective” You must either be insane, or utterly stupid, to believe that. Kashmir insurgency is sponsored by Pakistan for all these years and they are motivated by religion.

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