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Strike in support of Article 35-A cripples life in Kashmir, Chenab valley for 2nd day

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Srinagar, Aug 06: Life in Kashmir and Chenab valley region of Jammu province remained affected today for the second consecutive day due to a shutdown called by separatists against the legal challenge to the constitutional validity of Article 35-A.

The apex court today adjourned hearing on constitutional validity of the Article, saying one of the three judges on the bench was not present. The top court listed the matter for hearing in the week commencing August 27.

Article 35-A, incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, confers special status to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

The two-day strike was called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) -- comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik.

Various organisations, including the Kashmir High Court Bar Association, transporters and traders' bodies had extended support to the shutdown call.

Protests have also 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.

Educational institutions, shops and business establishments remained closed across the Valley today, while all kinds of transport remained off the roads due to the strike.

Police and paramilitary forces remained deployed at “vulnerable places” in the city and elsewhere in Kashmir for maintaining law and order, officials said, adding the situation across the Valley remained peaceful with no untoward incident reported from anywhere.

While stone-pelting incidents were reported from some places yesterday, with six people getting injured in Kulgam district in a clash between protesters and government forces, minor clashes were reported from some area of the city today as well.

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

Various religious and social organisations had given the call for two-day strike to "safeguard" the constitutional provision.

A shutdown called by local organisations also disrupted life in Kargil and adjoining areas in Ladakh region, the officials said.

However, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the strike-hit districts.

The strike coincided with the hearing of the case filed by an NGO in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the constitutional provision.

Shops and business establishments in district headquarters and other towns remained mostly closed, while people took out rallies at various places demanding dismissal of the case.

However, the shops and business establishments reopened in Bhaderwah town after the reports spread that the Supreme Court had adjourned the hearing and listed the matter for hearing in the week commencing August 27.

Earlier, National Conference activists led by district vice president Riyaz Bhadarwahi took out a rally in the town.

"Any attempt to dilute the state subject law would not be tolerated, deferment or adjournment is a mere eye wash and to keep the sword hanging on our heads," Bhaderwahi said, demanding dismissal of the case.

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