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Kashmir shuts in support of Article 35-A

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Protests held against attempts to scrap this law

 Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar, Aug 05: Life in Kashmir came to a grinding halt Sunday due to a complete shutdown called by the separatists against the legal challenge to the validity of Article 35-A, which bars people from outside Jammu and Kashmir from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

Though there were protests and some clashes as well in certain parts of the city, but authorities maintain that the situation across the Valley is peaceful with no untoward incident reported from anywhere.

The impact of shutdown was unprecedented with shops and business establishments remaining closed across the Valley while all kinds of transport also remained off the roads.

Train services have also been suspended in the Valley for today and tomorrow in view of a strike, a senior railway official said today.

The official said there are apprehensions of law and order problems in the Valley, hence train service will remain suspended for two days on August 05 and 06.

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has called for a two-day strike – Sunday and Monday — as Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a PIL challenging the validity of the Article 35-A tomorrow (Monday, Aug 06).

The State 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”.

Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable places in the city and elsewhere in Kashmir for maintaining law and order.

Various organisations including the High Court Bar Association, transporters and traders’ bodies have extended support to the shutdown call of the JRL comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik.

Protests have been held across the length and breadth of Kashmir over the past few days with mainstream parties like the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also holding rallies in support of continuing Article 35-A.

Today also, peaceful protests were held across Kashmir against the legal challenge to the validity of Article 35-A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.

The protesters wowed to defend the special constitutional provision, that bars people from outside Jammu and Kashmir acquire any immovable property in the state.

Traders’ organisations took out a protest march and held a sit-in at Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) in city centre Lal Chowk in support of continuation of Article 35-A.

Traders including Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) and FCIK assembled near the Ganta Ghar in Lal Chowk holding placards and banners and registered their protest against the attempts to abrogate Article 35-A.

On this occasion, KTMF president Muhammad Yasin Khan said the hearing on the sensitive as Article 35- A has heightened tensions as the people here are apprehensive of their fate and ready to sacrifice everything to safeguard their existence.

Flanked by other trade leaders, including  Ashraf Mir (FCIK), Iqbal Tramboo (KEA), Khan said any fiddling with the Article 35-A could trigger a catastrophe in the entire South Asian region and not in Kashmir alone.

“When New Delhi should have been serious to take measures to improve situation through initiation of efforts for final settlement Kashmir in accordance with the aspirations of the people of the state, some hidden forces are hell-bent to keep Kashmir on the boil through such sinister petitions, and the people here are being pushed towards a decisive battle,” Khan said.

Khan questioned why all such petitions that aim to weaken the special status of Kashmir or to “bring demographic changes” in the only Muslim majority state are gaining currency since last four years.

Timing of such cases smacks of conspiracy, he said, adding “we appeal the honorable Supreme Court to dismiss the petition so that the wild fears in the minds of already victimized people of Jammu and Kashmir come to an end once for all.”

The traders also appealed the PM Narendra Modi led government in New Delhi to handle the case diligently. “Any fiddling with the Article 35-A will only push the people of Kashmir to a do or die situation and onus of any such a development will lie on New Delhi,” the traders said.

Similar protests were simultaneously held by the traders in other parts of the Valley at various district headquarters including Handwara, Tral, Anantnag, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Shopian.

In the city, rallies were also held at Zadibal, Karfali Mohalla, Rainawari, Anchaar, Dalgate, Rambagh, Khanyar and Parimpora areas also, officials said.

Peaceful rallies were also taken out at several places in other districts and towns of the Valley, they confirmed.

Minor stone pelting incidents were also reported from some parts of the Valley,  the officials said, adding the pelters were chased away by the government forces personnel deployed for maintaining law and order.

There were no reports of anyone getting hurt in today’s clashes, they said.

There were reports of partial strike and peaceful rallies in support of the Article 35-A from Chenab Valley districts of Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar.

Groups of people also staged peaceful rallies at several places including Gool, Sangaldan and Banihal in support of the Article 35-A, the officials said, adding local public transport remained off the roads in many areas of the hilly districts.

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