Kashmir shuts down ahead of Supreme Court hearing on Article 35A
Government offices witnessed very thin attendance. Roads were deserted and markets empty amid a heavy presence of security forces on the roads and in sensitive areas to prevent any mass protests as the two-day separatists’ sponsored showdown started Thursday.Updated: Aug 30, 2018 18:30 IST
A total shutdown was observed in Kashmir on Thursday against any tinkering with the Constitution’s article 35A that guarantees special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir.
Shops, businesses and educational institutions were closed and traffic was off the roads in Srinagar and other towns of Kashmir, a day ahead of the hearing in Supreme Court on petitions against article 35A, which empowers the state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide them special rights and privileges.
Government offices witnessed very thin attendance. Roads were deserted and markets empty amid a heavy presence of security forces on the roads and in sensitive areas to prevent any mass protests as the two-day separatists’ sponsored showdown started Thursday.
Police imposed curbs in northern and eastern parts of Srinagar to prevent escalation of violence.
“Complete restrictions were imposed in areas falling under five police stations of north Srinagar — Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, MR Gunj and Safa Kadal. In eastern Srinagar, Kralkhud and Maisuma were under partial restrictions,” said a police official. The situation remained by and large “under control” except stone pelting in Parimpora on the city’s outskirts, he added.
A sit-in was organised by a group of traders and industrialists at the Lal Chowk in the city centre against any change in state’s special status. Protests were also reported from a few areas both north and south Kashmir.
So far Kashmir has observed a shutdown for the fourth day this month against any tampering of the constitutional provision. Unprecedented shutdowns were observed ahead of last date of hearing on August 5 and 6. A spontaneous shutdown and protests erupted on August 27 over rumors that the apex court was hearing the case.
The Supreme Court will on August 31 hear a bunch of petitions against article 35A though the Jammu and Kashmir government had asked it to defer the hearing citing upcoming panchayat and urban local body elections.
Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, under the banner of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), had given call for a two-day shutdown on Thursday and Friday across the state against the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of “attempts to change the demography” of the state through the legal route. They warned of launching a “mass agitation of hitting and occupying streets” if any tinkering with 35A is allowed to take place.
“Despite curbs, curfews, house arrests complete strike across J&K as people express their strong resentment & protest against the nefarious design of tinkering with state subject laws. No amount of coercion will deter people from fighting this assault with all our might & conviction,” tweeted Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Since August 1, there have been intermittent protests in the state against any change in articles 35A and 370 with the state’s main regional mainstream parties like National Conference and Peoples’ Democratic Party also hitting streets on the issue. Senior Congress leaders of the state have also warned of a massive agitation if Article 35A was fiddled with.
While article 370 grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, article 35A disallows people from the rest of India from buying or owning immovable property in the state, settle permanently, or get state government jobs.
First Published: Aug 30, 2018 18:01 IST