J&K shuts down as SC set to hear plea against Article 35A

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a virtual shutdown on Sunday following a call by separatists, which was endorsed by various trade and government employees’ organisations, to protest against the legal challenge to the validity of Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court. Article 35A bars outsiders from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

A three-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the presidential order of 1954, which defines “permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir” and bars non-locals from buying and owning land in the state. The presidential order concerning Article 35A was challenged by a Delhi-based NGO — We The Citizens — in 2014.

On Friday, the J&K government had sought adjournment of the case in the Supreme Court. Abdul Majid, law secretary, J&K, told TOI that the state government had already sought adjournment of the case in view of upcoming panchayat and urban bodies’ elections in the state.

“The state government has asked its standing counsel in the Supreme Court to file a request to the court for the adjournment of several cases, including the one concerning Article 35A,” he said.

On Sunday, the shutdown was total in Kashmir Valley and in parts of Jammu, especially in Muslim-dominated areas of Rajouri and Poonch, according to reports. The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, called for a two-day shutdown, beginning Sunday, in the state against any attempt to abrogate Article 35A.

DGP SP Vaid denied reports that violence and unrest might erupt in the state. Large contingents of paramilitary forces had been deployed in sensitive areas in the Valley, he said.

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