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Rumours about Art 35 A trigger clashes

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Scores injured in Srinagar, south Kashmir districts

(L to R): Youth clash with forces in old town Srinagar, as people accused forces of vandalizing properties and damaging vehicles following clashes in Anantnag town. Photos/Javed Khan, Muneeb Ul Islam

Srinagar: Clashes broke out between protestors and security forces in Kashmir as many parts of the valley observed a spontaneous shutdown following “rumours” about scrapping of Article 35-A, police said.

At least 12 people were injured today in the clashes, they said.

Article 35-A, which grants special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, is currently facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.

People took to streets in many parts of the valley following a media report that the apex court will hear the petition challenging the validity of Article 35-A today.

The protests turned violent at some places as people indulged in stone-pelting on security forces posted on law and order duties, officials said.

The security forces resorted to baton charging and fired tear smoke shells to chase away the protestors, they said, adding that pellet guns were used at some places to restore order.

The areas where protests took place included many parts of the city, Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Budgam, Sopore and Ganderbal, the officials said.

The spontaneous shutdown was observed at many places in the valley as rumours about scrapping of Article 35-A started doing rounds on social media.

“Spontaneous shutdown was observed in many places in the valley, including Srinagar — the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir,” a police official said.

He said while the shops and other business establishments had opened this morning, the shutters were downed after the rumours, he said.

The official said announcements were made on loudspeakers that Article 35-A has been scrapped and people were asked to observe a strike and come out on streets.

Meanwhile, police, in a statement, requested people to maintain calm and not pay heed to rumours.

“Some sections of media circulated news regarding article 35-A. The news is refuted as baseless. People are requested to maintain calm and not to pay heed to rumours. The main hearing is on 31st of August,” the statement said.

However, most of the shops opened in the afternoon and traffic resumed on the roads.

Hurriyat Conference M chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the “spontaneous and sharp reaction” of the people of Kashmir to a rumour about Article 35-A of the Constitution should be an “eye-opener” for the government that no “tampering” would be tolerated with the constitutional provision.

Aaqib Naik adds from Shopian: 22 youth sustained injuries after clashes broke out between the government forces and people in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

Sources said that soon after the news about the hearing of a petition challenging Article 35 A, spread scores of the people mostly youth assembled at Gol Lal Chowk in Shopian and clashed with forces, resulting in injuries to four youth initially.

The injured youth were later shifted to Shopian hospital for the treatment.

Hospital authorities of Shopian said, they have received 22 injured youth and six of them have been referred to Srinagar for further treatment as their injuries were grievous in nature.

Clashes were also witnessed across south Kashmir including Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwama districts.

Heavy clashes were also witnessed at Government Degree College Kulgam when students took a rally against and clashed with forces.

Locals in Anantnag town alleged that following clashes, the forces vendalized properties and also damaged vehicles.

SC to hear petitions on August 31

Srinagar: The Supreme Court will on Friday hear a bunch of petitions challenging the Article 35A.

According to the cause list released by the apex court registry, the case will be heard by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishri on August 31.

The case figures at serial number 18 among the cases listed on Friday.

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