Shutdown in Kashmir to defend Article 35A

Shutdown in Kashmir to defend Article 35A
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Case does not come up for hearing in Supreme Court

Srinagar: The listed hearing on Article 35A in the Supreme Court did not take place on Wednesday even as Kashmir valley observed a shutdown on the call of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) to protest the “legal challenge” to the Indian Constitution’s provision that confers special rights and privileges on the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The public shutdown was held amid intensified security arrangements by the administration, especially in old Srinagar. Restrictions on public assembly had been imposed in several areas and concertina wires were laid across roads at several places to prevent movement of both pedestrians and vehicles. Large contingents of police and paramilitary CRPF, in anti-riot gear, were deployed from the morning on the streets. Government forces had also installed barricades on several roads in the city.
Public transport was off the roads throughout the day but during the second half of the day movement of private vehicles was seen in the city.
JRL leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik had jointly given the call for a two-day shutdown on Wednesday and Thursday to protest and resist the hearing in the Supreme Court. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted on Wednesday that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will “resist every challenge by New Delhi to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir”.
The Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) on Wednesday said that fiddling with Article 35A would trigger “a catastrophe not just in Kashmir but entire South Asia.”
The Sheher-e-Khaas Traders and Manufacturers Coordination Committee said it was “fully supporting” the JRL’s shutdown call. It also held a peaceful protest in downtown Srinagar.
The situation remained peaceful during the day in Srinagar but some reports suggested that minor clashes took place in the old city.
Reports from north Kashmir areas said that people observed a complete shutdown with all shops and business establishments including tuition centers and private offices remaining closed in Baramulla, Sopore, Pattan, Sheeri, Langate, Handwara, Kupwara, Kralpora, Hajin and Bandipora areas. Public transport was also off the roads in these areas, reports said.
Similar reports were received from south Kashmir districts and central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
A team of 15 lawyers from the Kashmir High Court Bar Association (KHCBA) went to Delhi on Wednesday to oppose the petitions challenging Article 35A in the Supreme Court. Senior advocate Nazir Ahmad Ronga, part of this team, told Kashmir Reader over phone that the petitions were not taken up for hearing although they were listed for hearing on Wednesday.
“We don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” Ronga said.
Later in the evening, the cases listed for hearing on Thursday in the Supreme Court did not include the petitions challenging Article 35A.
The J&K Government has filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking adjournment of the hearing till an elected government is established in the state.
On August 31 last year, the Supreme Court had deferred the hearing to January 2019 after both the Government of India and the J&K Government sought deferment of the hearing, citing upcoming Panchayat and urban body elections.