Not an en masse clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir, Centre tells top court
The Union government justified in the Supreme Court on Thursday its restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, outlining what it said were indicators of normalcy returning to the Valley amid strong restrictions that have been in place for over three months now.
Attorney General K K Venugopal told the top court that instead of questions, the government should be “congratulated” for effectively handling the situation after the “historic” and “unparalleled” decision that was announced on August 5.
Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta defended the government in a petition challenging the restrictions imposed in the Kashmir Valley. “It was not an en masse clampdown as alleged. The restrictions were based on inputs with respect to each area”, submitted Mehta.
Mehta added that almost all restrictions have been lifted, including Section 144 orders which he claimed are not in force anywhere in the Valley now.
Mehta also responded to the arguments of the petitioners based on foreign judgments, particularly in relation to freedom of speech.
“Freedom of Speech is not absolute. In USA, burning of flag is protected. However, it is an offence in India. In USA, media is allowed to publish names or rape victims provided it is obtained from an official source. It is not allowed here”, said Mehta
As the hearing progressed, Mehta questioned the bona fides of the petitioner Anuradha Bhasin alleging that she has not divulged all the facts. He argued that while there are no restrictions on media now and newspapers are being published, the petitioner has chosen not to publish her newspaper from Srinagar.
He also questioned the wisdom of the petitioner in relying on an article published by website India Spend. Debunking the website, Mehta handed over an article published by another website, OpIndia, which invited objections from the petitioners.
The petition has challenged the curbs on broadband communication and mobile internet services,
Mehta also objected to certain arguments made by petitioners which he termed as “trivialising” the work done by security forces and local administration.
“We must be proud of our security forces that not a single life has been lost in firing. It was sought to be trivialised yesterday by saying curfew could be imposed in entire country to prevent murders. Such trivialisation is unacceptable”, he said.
Attorney General KK Venugopal also backed up the sentiment stating that Government of India should be congratulated for managing the situation without a single bullet being fired and without any casualty.
The hearing will resume on Monday next week.