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Kashmir On Tenterhooks Ahead of Article 35A Hearing in Supreme Court Today

Article 35A, which was added to the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.


Updated:August 6, 2018, 7:22 AM IST
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Kashmir On Tenterhooks Ahead of Article 35A Hearing in Supreme Court Today
Security personnel patrol a street in Srinagar on Sunday ahead of Monday's hearing on Article 35A. (PTI Photo/S Irfan)

Srinagar: Protests were held across Kashmir on Sunday as tension simmered ahead of Monday’s hearing in the Supreme Court on a batch of petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A, which guarantees special privileges to the state.

Srinagar wore a deserted look as protesters vowed to defend the constitutional provision that bars people from outside Jammu and Kashmir from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

Traders’ organisations took out a protest march and held a sit-in at Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) in Lal Chowk in support of continuation of Article 35-A. Similar peaceful rallies were held at Zadibal, Karfali Mohalla, Rainawari, Anchaar, Dalgate, Rambagh, Khanyar and Parimpora in the city, officials said.

Various organisations, including the 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. The Amarnath Yatra was also suspended as a precautionary measure in view of the strike.

However, there were minor incidents of stone pelting reported from some parts of the Valley, officials said, adding that the miscreants were chased away by security forces. There were no reports of anyone getting hurt in the brief clashes.

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”.

Meanwhile, an RSS-linked NGO, which has moved the Supreme Court for scrapping Article 35A, said it would seek hearing of its plea by a Constitution bench. “There is no need to defer the hearing again. We are going to tell the Supreme Court through our counsel on Monday that our petition on Article 35A should be decided by a Constitution bench,” Chetan Sharma, convener of the J&K chapter of the civil society ‘We the Citizens’, told reporters.

Article 35A, which was added to the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and denies property rights to a native woman who marries a person from outside the state.

Protests have been held across the length and breadth of Kashmir over the past few days with mainstream parties such as the National Conference and PDP also holding rallies in support of continuing Article 35-A. The main petition demanding scrapping of the Article 35A was filed before the apex court in 2014 by Delhi-based NGO 'We the Citizens'.

Reacting to the issue, IAS officer Shah Faesal said repealing of Article 35A would end J&K’s relationship with the rest of the country.

Faesal, a 2010-batch IAS exam topper, is currently pursuing a mid-career masters’ programme in the US and is facing disciplinary proceedings for posting a tweet about frequent rapes in the country. “I would compare Article 35A to a marriage-deed/nikahnama. You repeal it and the relationship is over. Nothing will remain to be discussed afterwards,” he said in a tweet.

He added that the accession of J&K to India took place before the Constitution came into force.

The IAS officer, however, said continuing the special Constitutional provisions in respect of Jammu and Kashmir did not pose any threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the country.

(With PTI inputs)

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