Tension was palpable in Kashmir on Tuesday after Indian Air Force fighter jets entered inside the Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Residents of Srinagar and other major towns in the valley could be seen discussing in small groups the fallout of the IAF’s pre-dawn strikes across the LoC.
“We hope that it ends here and there is no more escalation. If there is escalation in hostilities, it will be the people on either side of the Line of Control who will suffer the most,” Abdul Gani Dar (80), who has witnessed all wars between India and Pakistan, said.
Many residents, including former chief minister Omar Abdullah, took to social media to express their fears about the possibility of a full blown confrontation between the two nuclear powers.
“The problem now becomes PM Imran Khan’s commitment to his country – ‘Pakistan will not think about responding, Pakistan WILL respond’. What shape will response take? Where will response be? Will India have to respond to Pakistan’s response?” Abdullah wrote on his Twitter handle.
Residents of Kashmir had gone on a hoarding spree after the government launched a crackdown on separatists and Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir cadres last week.
The move was followed by the deployment of 100 additional companies of paramilitary forces in the valley. Governor Satya Pal Malik had on Sunday allayed fears of the people, saying it was only an election-related exercise and there was no reason to panic.
In an apparent dig, Abdullah said the reports about an Indian Air Force C17 Globemaster III flying over Jammu and Kashmir was about election duty and had nothing to do with the air strikes in Pakistan.
“It’s sitting in Srinagar offloading paramilitary forces to deal with internal security & election duty. Has nothing to do with the airstrike in to Pakistan this morning,” the National Conference leader said.
Meanwhile, the officials said security forces have been asked to remain on alert as the NIA is carrying out raids on residences of some top separatist leaders and their sympathisers.
Security forces have been deployed in strength in vulnerable areas of the city as officials expect protests against the raids.