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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

There are formidable reasons, says SC on Jammu and Kashmir curbs; asks Centre to restore normalcy

Chief Justice Gogoi also responded to a complaint that people weren’t able to approach the high court, offered to ascertain the situation and if need be, even travel to the state.

india Updated: Sep 16, 2019 16:16 IST

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Police personnel block the road leading to residence of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, in Srinagar on September 16, 2019. (Photo by Waseem Andrabi / Hindustan Times)
Police personnel block the road leading to residence of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, in Srinagar on September 16, 2019. (Photo by Waseem Andrabi / Hindustan Times)
         

The Supreme Court asked the government to take all steps to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir but stressed there were “formidable reasons” for the restrictions imposed by the government.

A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi which took up a bunch of petitions on the scrapped special status for the state and its impact, also accepted a request from Ghulam Nabi Azad to travel to four districts to reach out to people and ascertain their problems.

Chief Justice Gogoi also responded to a complaint that people weren’t able to approach the high court, offered to ascertain the situation and if need be, even travel to the state.

The top court also heard the Centre’s top law officer KK Venugopal outline the steps taken by the government and the threat perception. Attorney General Venugopal explained how the government was trying hard to ensure that the violence seen in 2016 after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani was not repeated. The cycle of violence had then continued for four months and led to the death of 46 people, he told the court.

Venugopal said the government had to respond to a three-pronged attack on the state administration. One by Kashmiri separatists funding people who were instigated to hold protests and throw stones at police, second from Pakistan which had been sending terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir and funding terror groups and thirdly, by businessmen such as Zahoor Watali, who fund local militant groups.

Justice SA Bobde, one of the three judges on the bench, responded to the Attorney General’s outline of the situation in Kashmir: “These are formidable reasons. A terrible state of affairs”.

“We trust you will endeavour to establish the situation in Kashmir,” the judge told the Centre, asking the government to file an affidavit within two weeks.

Venugopal rejected the contention by journalist Anuradha Bhasin about curbs on media in Kashmir, asserting that all newspapers were being published without any impediment.

At one point when the judges asked a petitioner why he didn’t approach the high court, the bench was told that the complete shutdown prevented people from reaching the court. Chief Justice Gogoi took serious note of the argument and said he would speak with the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice to ascertain the facts and if necessary, travel to the state.

First Published: Sep 16, 2019 16:14 IST

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