SC adjourns Article 35A hearing: PDP warns cessation of law would present Centre as 'occupying force' in Kashmir

As a civil curfew has crippled normal life in Kashmir, the Peoples Democratic Party on Monday said that any attempt to repeal the Article 35A of the Indian Constitution would tantamount to "marital rape" and that it will transform the relationship between the Union of India and state of Jammu and Kashmir into "occupation."

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the hearing on pleas challenging constitutional validity of Article 35A pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir. Petitions on Article 35A will now be heard in week commencing 27 August, said Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

Senior PDP leader and former public works minister in Mehbooba Mufti-led BJP-PDP government, Naeem Akhter, wrote on Twitter:

The Kashmir Valley, and for the first time, the Muslim majority region of Chenab Valley and even parts of Jammu region are witnessing protests amid a shutdown call given by Joint Resistance Leadership to protest against any tinkering with Article 35A, which grants special privileges to residents of the state. And in recent years no such call has evoked such a massive response given by Hurriyat leadership on any issue. "I have never witnessed such a strong response to anything related to the Constitution of India in Kashmir in the last 29 years,” said Mubeen Shah, the member of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "It is an indication what could be in offing if any tinkering is allowed with this provision. It doesn’t matter which institution of the state, be it judiciary or legislative, the whole state will erupt."

 SC adjourns Article 35A hearing: PDP warns cessation of law would present Centre as occupying force in Kashmir

The old town in Srinagar wore a deserted look as Jammu and Kashmir stayed shutdown over Article 35-A hearing. Image by: Sameer Yasir

For the first time in 29 years of conflict in Kashmir, the ski tourist resort of Gulmarg is also observing a complete shutdown. This has never happened before, not even during the peaks of three mass agitations in Kashmir during 2008, 2009 and 2010 that left hundreds dead. Shutdown is in effect in the tourist resorts of Pahalgam and Sonamarg too. "I don’t remember the last time when such a response was generated to the strike call given by Hurriyat leadership, not in Gulmarg at least," Ali Mohammad Mir, the president of business association of Tangmarg said.

In almost all parts of Kashmir, including Srinagar, shops, educational institutions, business establishments and fuel stations are closed. The public and private transport is off the roads. Even three-wheelers that ply normally during shutdown are off roads. The roads are deserted and only dogs can be seen roaming on the streets. The Muslim regions of Doda, Kishtwar and Baderwah in Chenab Valley are also witnessing complete shutdown and massive protests.

"People across the state, including Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Baderwah, Kishtwar, Kargil and Kashmir staged exemplary protest against moves intended at abrogating or tinkering with the hereditary state subject law in the garb of 35A," the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, said in statement.

JRL has called for a two-day strike on Sunday and Monday. To prevent any deterioration in law and order situation, thousands of security personnel have been fanned across Kashmir to deal with the emerging situation. "As Hurriyat leadership and activists stand caged in homes while our offices raided, complete protest strike being observed throughout against the mischief to change the demography of the state and its disputed status through “legal “challenge” to Art 35A," Mirwaiz wrote on Twitter.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has filed an application before the Registrar of the Supreme Court, informing that it is going to seek adjournment of the hearing of the petition in view of the "ongoing preparations for the upcoming Panchayat and urban local body and municipal elections in the state". The traders on Sunday took out protest rally in Srinagar in support of Article 35A, and said they oppose any tinkering with the law ‘tooth and nail’.

They took out a protest rally from Regal Chowk to Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar. Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Kashmir Economic Alliance and Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation president, said had there been mass movements since the beginning to protect the identity of the Kashmiri people “Article 370 would have become a shell.” "It is the slow dilution of the Article 370 which has made it a shell over these years. Now they want also repeat the same thing with Article 35A," Mir said.

"The response to the shutdown is a message that people won’t allow any tinkering or dilution of Article 35A," he said. National Conference leader and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah tweeted on Monday: 'Protecting #Article35A is a tacit acceptance that J&K’s future lies within the Constitution of India otherwise how would it matter if it were struck down or diluted?'

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Updated Date: Aug 06, 2018 15:49:38 IST