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RPF official's letter asks staff to prepare for law & order problem in Kashmir,railway says no basis

Srinagar, Jul 28 (PTI) A letter by a Railway Protection Force official in Budgam asking employees to stock rations and take other steps due to "forecast of deteriorating situation" in Kashmir valley "for a long period" created a flutter, following which the Railways on Saturday clarified that the communication had no basis and he had no authority to issue it. A copy of the letter by Sudesh Nugyal, Assistant Security Commissioner (ASC), RPF, Budgam, was shared widely on social media including by former chief minister Omar Abdullah who questioned the motive behind such a missive. According to the letter, "As per inputs received from different security agencies and SSP/GRP/SINA (senior superintendent of police Government Railway Police, Srinagar) regarding forecast of deteriorating situation in Kashmir valley and issue of law and order for a long period, a precautionary security meeting was held on July 27." Nugyal asked employees to take precautionary measures including stocking up ration for at least four months and shifting their families out of the Valley. "At least four-month dry ration should be purchased in advance to meet any crisis situation. Store drinking water for at least seven days consumption. Staff should keep their pitthu bag ready with sufficient amount of eatables, drinking water, chocolates, money etc for emergency purpose," the letter said. However, a clarification was issued by a railways board spokesperson saying the letter was sent without any authority by the next in line to the senior divisional security commissioner, who had proceeded on one-year study leave on July 26,. "The next in line issued this letter based on his own perception which has no basis and is not authorised to issue any such letter. "It is also clarified that the letter does not have any approval from authorising authority. IG (NR) RPF is being sent to Kashmir to assess the situation and take corrective action," the spokesperson said. The letter said the vehicles should be fully filled with fuel and kept hidden in a safe place as they may be attacked with the intention of damage. "Unnecessary movement of vehicle should be restricted with immediate effect," the official said in the letter. The staff were directed to not have any negotiations with mob and "mob should not be allowed to come near railway installations if it happens as insurgents may be in mob". The leave of staff should be restricted due to the emergency situation, the letter read. "Nobody should keep their family or relative in Kashmir valley who may have come for Amarnath yatra. They should be sent back to their native place for safety reasons by July 28. Administration will not hold any responsibility for eventuality," the letter said. The official also said all GOs were requested to hold such meetings with their senior subordinate staff for safety reasons during the crisis situation as a precautionary measure. Reacting to the letter, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, "It's easy to blame valley residents for fear-mongering but what are we to make of such official orders which forecast a deterioration in the law and order environment and even predict disturbances lasting for an extended period of time? Why is the government silent?" Meanwhile, Abdullah shared a purported letter from SSP Railway Kashmir to the Budgam official saying that he has not shared any such information with him as stated in the letter "making rounds on social media". He has expressed concern over the issue and asked him "to desist from such acts in future". The controversy comes amid criticism of the Centre by a section of Kashmiri leaders to send 100 more companies (10,000 personnel) of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to the state. The government had said the troops were being deployed to strengthen the counter-insurgency grid and law and order duties in the Kashmir Valley. BJP national vice-president and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had on Saturday accused Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti of spreading rumours on the deployment, saying it was a normal process and a routine exercise. PTI SSB ASG AAR