J&K tense ahead of SC hearing

Unease and growing anxiety was palpable in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, a day ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on whether a Constitution Bench should go into the question of Article 35A, which empowers the State legislature to define “permanent residents” and provide special rights and privileges to them.

A complete shutdown was observed in the Valley on the call of the separatist Joint Resistance Leadership, comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.

There was very thin traffic on the roads. Most people stayed indoors. However, there were no reports of any violence. The authorities suspended the Amarnath yatra. All intra-State train services were halted. Extra deployments were made in all volatile areas.

Protests in Jammu

Protests were also held in the Jammu region’s Chenab Valley and Pir Panjal Valley, where residents called for retention of the Article.

In Srinagar, several bodies of traders and transporters, including the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), the Kashmir Economic Alliance and the Federation of Chambers of Industries-Kashmir, held a sit-in at Lal Chowk.

“We want to defend Article 35A. Any dilution is unacceptable. In fact, New Delhi should be talking on the larger political issue of Kashmir to resolve it and not tamper with the constitutional position,” said KTMF president Muhammad Yasin Khan.

He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to handle the case delicately.”

In a joint statement, Mr. Geelani, the Mirwaiz and Mr. Malik said the shutdown “was the unequivocal and unanimous verdict of the people.”

“Any attack on the identity and distinctiveness of J&K under Article 35A will be rejected,” they said.

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