SC refuses to lift restrictions in J&K, but administration hopeful of relaxations soon; state to host first global investors summit in Oct

  • SC refused to order lifting of restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, and said 'reasonable time' should be given to authorities to ensure normalcy

  • However, the state administration said it was hopeful of further relaxations in the security clampdown after the Independence Day dress rehearsal concludes

  • The curbs would be relaxed in parts of the Valley in a phased manner based on the assessment of local authorities, said an official

A week after Jammu and Kashmir's special status was revoked, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to order lifting of restrictions in the state. However, on Tuesday afternoon, Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said the administration was hopeful of further relaxations in the security clampdown after the dress rehearsal for the Independence Day celebrations concludes in various districts.

Refusing to interfere with the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government imposing restrictions, including the shutdown of communication services, a bench — comprising Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah and Ajay Rastogi — said "reasonable time" should be given to authorities to ensure normalcy as the "situation is very sensitive".

Kansal later told a press conference in Srinagar that while prohibitory conditions were relaxed in various parts of Kashmir, the Jammu region was "almost entirely" free of restrictions. "Restrictions, however, do continue in parts of Kashmir," he said, adding, "We are hopeful that once the full dress rehearsals for Independence Day being carried out in various districts of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh conclude, there will be further relaxations."

He added that the curbs would be relaxed in parts of the Valley in a phased manner based on the assessment of local authorities.

MHA confirms reports of unrest in Soura on 9 August

Days after calling reports on unrest in Soura area of Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar as 'fabricated', the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) acknowledged Tuesday that an incident of stone-pelting did take place in Soura on 9 August which later sparked unrest.

 SC refuses to lift restrictions in J&K, but administration hopeful of relaxations soon; state to host first global investors summit in Oct

Locals walk past security personnel in Jammu on Monday. AP

Earlier, a few international media houses — including BBC and The Washington Post — had drawn criticism for reporting about the incident. A home ministry spokesperson had also called the reports about protests as "fabricated and incorrect".

Investors summit from 12 to 14 October

The authorities in Jammu and Kashmir announced that a three-day global investors' summit will be held in the state from 12 to 14 October.

The first-ever global summit in the state will begin on 12 October in the presence of "dignitaries at the highest level" in Srinagar and conclude on 14 October in Jammu, principal secretary under the commerce and industry department NK Chaudhary said during a press conference.

"The inaugural session will be held in Srinagar on 12 October, while the closing ceremony will be held in Jammu. In between, a large number of technical sessions, workshops will be held in both cities," he said.

Agriculture and horticulture, food processing, film industry, harvesting technology, tourism, IT, handloom and handicraft, healthcare and pharmaceuticals are among the core sectors on which the summit will be focused.

Several Union ministers, representatives of state governments, and Central government secretaries are expected to participate in the summit. Chaudhary said that the government has invited about 2,000 dignitaries and is "very hopeful that a very good percentage of them will participate".

EC holds informal meeting on delimitation

The Election Commission on Tuesday held an "internal discussion" on various to aspects of delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and the process will roll out after a formal communication from the home ministry, sources told ANI.

The Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Act 2019 provides that the number of seats in the legislative assembly of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be increased from 107 to 114, and delimitation of the constituencies will be determined by the Election Commission.

Sources said that internal discussions were held on the issue. They said a delimitation commission is set up to fix limits or boundaries of constituencies and the process regarding delimitation will start after receiving formal communication from the ministry.

The Act, which was notified by the government on 9 August, provides for the creation of two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which won't.

Congress urges Centre to initiate political dialogue

The Congress expressed concern on Tuesday over the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir while urging the government to initiate a political dialogue and convene an all-party meeting on the issue.

Senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said Opposition leaders should be allowed to visit Jammu and Kashmir freely and speak to the people there and demanded the immediate release of all leaders placed under house arrest in the Valley so that they could voice their opinion.

"Since the government has imposed restrictions in the first place and taken this one-sided decision, we urge the government to initiate a political dialogue and take leaders of all Opposition parties into confidence," he told reporters in New Delhi.

Referring to Governor Satya Pal Malik's offer to send a plane for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to visit the state, Sharma said the latter had not sought the hospitality of the state administration as he did not wish to go there as a guest but wanted to exercise his right as a political leader.

"Any political leader does not need the hospitality of the governor. We demand that the government allow Opposition leaders to visit Jammu and Kashmir freely so that the nation and the world can know if all is well there or if there is any cause of concern," Sharma said.

He added that there were concerns for Jammu and Kashmir as there were a complete shutdown, news blackout and the entire communication network was shut.

Gandhi tweeted that he will take up the governor's offer along with a delegation of Opposition leaders, however, the Congress MP reiterated that he sought "freedom to travel and meet locals, not an aircraft".

Ex-Pakistan minister claims 'Indian genocide in Kashmir'

Former Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik drew flak on Twitter for alleging that there was an "Indian gunship attack" in Kashmir and "dozens of men, women and children" were killed because of it. Sharing a video, he asked US president Donald Trump and human rights organisations to take note of the "attack", and asked India to "stop" the "genocide in Kashmir".

Several users, including Indian journalists Pallavi Ghosh and Swati Chaturvedi, lashed out heavily at Malik for "peddling fake news".

Jammu and Kashmir Police "strongly rebutted" Malik's claims and said it has taken up the matter with the Twitter support team. According to unverified reports, the video shared by Malik was taken in 2018 following a shell explosion in Kulgam district.

Poland to 'closely monitor' issue

Poland foreign minister on Tuesday called up Pakistan foreign affairs minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to discuss the Kashmir issue. Poland's foreign ministry later tweeted, "As a rotating chair of the UNSC, Poland would closely monitor developments in the region."

The Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and moved a bill proposing bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — on 5 August.

President Ram Nath Kovind declared the abrogation of special status given to Jammu and Kashmir after both the Houses of Parliament passed a resolution in this regard. On Saturday, he gave assent to a bill passed by the Parliament, which seeks to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories. The Act will come into existence on 31 October.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 13, 2019 23:06:05 IST