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Article 35A hearing: Kashmir on edge

An unprecedented strike against the ‘assault’ on the article 35 A brought the normal life across the Kashmir and many parts of Jammu region to a grinding halt. The authorities, however, placed top separatist leaders under house arrest  to prevent them from leading any mass protest against the petition filed in the Supreme Court seeking abrogation of article 35 A.

A Delhi based NGO, ‘We the Citizens’ has filed a petition challenging the validity of article 35 A that guarantees hereditary special citizenship rights to the people of J&K and bars non-state residents from buying land and applying in various government jobs in the State. The case is listed before the Supreme Court for a hearing on August 6. All eyes are set on the apex court now. For the first time, director general of police (DGP) Shesh Paul Vaid had told  that peaceful protests against petition seeking abrogation of Article 35-A , will be allowed.

The J&K government led by Governor N N Vohra has already submitted a plea in the apex court seeking adjournment of the petition against article 35 A. Terming the PIL as a move to change the demography of J&K and to change the muslim majority character of the state, Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik had called for a two-day protest and shutdown call against the petition. The first day of the protest and strike evoked an exemplary response as normal life across the Kashmir remained crippled. A witness said that strike was also observed in Jammu region’s Chenab Valley that includes Poonch, Rajouri, Doda and Banihal. Strike was also and also in the parts of Kargil district of Ladakh.

In Kashmir region, it was a civil curfew like situation as even the fruit vendors, street vendors and cart pullers selling summer stuff, who otherwise would set up stalls on the road side in the city centre, closed their business for a day. The weekly Sunday market also remained shut in protest. In the commercial hub of Srinagar, LalChowk, many vendors and shopkeepers had erected posters that read: “Ready to sacrifice everything for Article 35 A.”

Roads wore a complete deserted look and even the movement of private transport was almost zero let alone public transport. Earlier in the day traders, transporters, tour operators, industrialists and hoteliers had staged a joint sit-in at GhantaGhar (clock tower) against the moves aimed at tinkering with the article 35-A.  The petrol pumps also remained shut as a mark of protest against the attack on citizenship rights.

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