JAMMU: Separatist leaders have called for a total shutdown in Kashmir on Friday as the Supreme Court is set to decide on the validity of Article 35A, which bars people from outside Jammu and Kashmir from acquiring any immovable property in the state.
The Joint Resistance Leadership, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, had given the call for a complete shutdown to protest against a bunch of petitions seeking to scrap Article 35A on Thursday. The separatists also called for a complete shutdown on August 31 – the day when the matter comes up for hearing in court.
Shops, business establishments and educational institutions were closed across the Valley while all kinds of transport remained off the roads due to the strike called by the separatists on Thursday. Schools were shut and attendance in government offices and banks also remained thin.
Various organisations including the Bar Association and the 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 separatists claim that the SC hearing on Article 35A it is an attempt to change the demography of the state.
“Despite curbs, curfews, house arrests complete strike across J&K as people express their strong resentment & protest against the nefarious design of tinkering with state subject laws. No amount of coercion will deter people from fighting this assault with all our might & conviction!” Mirwaiz had tweeted.
Protests also erupted in parts of the Kashmir ahead of the SC ruling on the issue, however, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere, the officials said.
Authorities have imposed restrictions in some parts of the city as a precautionary measure for maintaining law and order, the officials said.
They said the areas where restrictions under section 144 CrPC have been imposed include police station Khanyar, Nowhatta, Maharajgunj, Safakadal, Rainawari, Maisuma and Kralkhud.
The officials said security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable places in the city and elsewhere in Kashmir for maintaining law and order.
Separatist leaders have been put under house arrest.
Article 35A lays down that only permanent residents of J&K shall own immovable property in the state, or get government jobs or scholarships. It empowers the state for bestowing special rights and privileges to the people.
Article 35A has been protecting the culture of the indigenous people of J&K and Ladakh and their rights to own the land in the state.
Article 370 accords special rights and privileges to J&K citizens, including an exemption from constitutional provisions governing other states. It also empowers the state legislative assembly to frame any law without attracting a legal challenge.
Because of the allowance by Article 370, the state of J& K has its own Constitution. Article 35A and 370 were introduced to the Constitution by the founding fathers of the nation.
A non-governmental organisation, ”We the Citizens”, filed a petitioned in the top court in 2014 to abolish the law on the grounds that it was “unconstitutional”.
There are apprehensions, amongst sections of Kashmiris, that if the law is repealed or diluted, outsiders would settle in J&K.
(With Agency inputs)