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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Shutdown, clashes in Kashmir over rumours of SC scrapping Article 35A

Separatists have called for a general shutdown on Friday and Saturday to highlight the public support for Article 35A.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2018 19:39 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Authorities on Monday imposed a shutdown on Srinagar and some other parts of the Kashmir Valley following rumours that the Supreme Court has scrapped Article 35A, police said.
Authorities on Monday imposed a shutdown on Srinagar and some other parts of the Kashmir Valley following rumours that the Supreme Court has scrapped Article 35A, police said.(AP File Photo)

Twenty-two people were injured after protesters clashed with security forces even as many parts of Kashmir shut down spontaneously on Monday amid rumours that the Supreme Court was hearing petitions against Article 35 A of the Constitution.

The rumours spread after news agency report that a fresh plea by a BJP leader against Article 35 A was listed for hearing in Supreme Court on Monday. The reports said that the plea was ultimately dropped by the court after an adjournment letter was moved by the petitioner.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the main bunch of petitions on Friday against the Article 35 A of the Constitution, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them. Earlier this month, the state government had moved an application in the Court to defer the hearing citing upcoming panchayat and urban local body elections.

As rumours spread on Monday, youth came out on roads particularly in south Kashmir’s Anantnag and Shopian districts and clashed with security forces who fired tear gas and pellets to disperse the stone throwing crowd in Shopian.

“Twenty two people who were injured due to pellets. Six of them including three with pellets in their eyes were referred to Srinagar hospitals for advanced treatement,” said chief medical officer Shopian, Abdul Rashid.

In Srinagar, shop keepers downed their shutters in Lal Chowk and traffic movement became thin as youth threw stones at policemen in Maisuma. Many schools and educational institutes closed early fearing escalation of violence.

Police as well as a separatist leader took to social media with messages to stem the rumours. The authorities also reduced the speed of mobile internet.

“A rumour is being spread by miscreants that hearing of Article 35 A case in the Supreme Court is today. This is not a fact. We will investigate all these rumour mongering cases and deal with the culprits strictly,” tweeted Munir Ahmad Khan, additional director general of police (law and order). 

J&K Police’s twitter handle urged people to maintain calm and not to pay heed to the rumours. “The main hearing is on 31st of August,” it clarified.

Even moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tried to dispel the misunderstanding. “A confusion is being created among people about the hearing of case pertaining to Article 35 A in the Indian Supreme Court for today. In this regard, what has been reported in media, is that a fresh case has been filed challenging Article 35 A in ISC,” Mirwaiz tweeted. “ … Most likely this new case may also be clubbed with the petitions filed by RSS-backed NGOs and individuals,” he said.

However, he deleted his tweet after some time and wrote another saying, “The feeling of people with regard to state subject laws is so strong that even misleading rumours that sections of Indian media spread generated such spontaneous &sharp reaction from the masses! should be eye opener for Govt! No tampering & mischief with the law will be tolerated”.

There are fears across Jammu and Kashmir that Article 370 and Article 35 A and may be scrapped which will allow outsiders to settle here. While Article 370 of the Constitution 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.

Separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) have called for a two-day shutdown on Thursday and Friday across the state blaming “BJP and RSS of attempts to change the demography” of the state through legal route.

Even mainstream parties including National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have warned of “dangerous consequences” if the constitutional guarantee was tampered with.

The state government under new governor Satya Pal Malik has engaged Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehra to defend state on the Article.

PDP, in a statement said that they sent state’s former Advocate General and party leader, Muzaffar Hussain Baig (MP) to Delhi to lead a team of lawyers in its intervention plea filed by the party through its president Mehbooba Mufti last week.

National Conference leader and Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah has engaged former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanium to defend the Article 35A in the court.

First Published: Aug 27, 2018 12:17 IST