Kashmir on edge – Kashmir, Chenab Valley shuts to protect Article 35A

Separatists caged; Amarnath yatra, train service suspended

Normal life came to a grinding halt in Kashmir and parts of Chenab Valley due to strike called by Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) to protest against any tinkering with Article 35-A, which grants special privileges to residents of the State.
Shops, business establishments and fuel stations in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley remained closed. The public and private transport was off the roads. Even three-wheelers were off the roads across the Valley.
The contingents of police and CRPF men were deployed in Srinagar’s downtown area and other sensitive parts of Valley to maintain law and order and foil protests.
Barring stray incidents of stone pelting at few places including at Sopore and Anantnag, the situation across the Valley remained peaceful.
In Srinagar, Shopian town and Tral town of Pulwama, traders, transporters and civil society members took out rallies in support of Article 35A.
The strike was called by Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik against any attempts to tinker with Article 35A. The JRL has also called for shutdown on Monday, when Supreme Court would hear petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A.
A complete shutdown was also observed in Doda, Kishtwar and Baderwah areas in Chenab Valley.
The Anjuman-e-Islamia Bhadarwah and Majlis-e-Shoura Kishtwar had backed the JRL strike call.
The force personnel were deployed in strength at all the sensitive places of Bhadarwah and Kishtwar to thwart any untoward incident.
Reports said markets were also shut in Banihal, Khari and Gool areas in Ramban district in Jammu region.
Authorities placed separatist leaders under house arrest or detention.
Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani continues to remain under house detention at his Hyderpora residence while Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was also placed under house arrest at Nageen residence.
JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik has reportedly gone into hiding to evade arrest.
Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Chairman, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai and other middle rung separatist leaders including Ghulam Nabi Sumji, Mohammad Ashraf Laya and Bilal Sidique were also put under house arrest.
Hurriyat (G) spokesperson Gulzar Ahmad and Moulvi Bashir were detained by police in Srinagar while Mohammad Yaseen Attai and Syed Imtiyaz Hyder were detained in Budgam.
“As Hurriyat leadership and activists stand caged in homes while our offices raided, complete protest strike being observed throughout against the mischief to change the demography of the state and its disputed status through “legal “challenge” to Art 35A,” Mirwaiz wrote on Twitter.
The JRL’s two-day strike has been supported by business fraternity, tourism players, lawyers, civil society members, etc.
The Valley has been witnessing near daily protests in support of Article 35-A and against any attempts to tinker or dilute the law.
Under Article 35-A, non-state residents are barred from buying or owning immovable property, own citizenship, or avail scholarship schemes and government jobs in the state.
The authorities suspended train services and Amarnath Yatra today due to apprehensions of protests and clashes.
Train services from Baramulla to Banihal were suspended in view of a strike and apprehension of protests, an official said.
He said the train services would remain suspended tomorrow also.
According to the police, no Amarnath yatra was allowed to move from the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas Jammu towards Kashmir.
“Amaranth yatra will continue to remain suspended till Monday,” Inspector General of Police Jammu, SD Singh Jamwal told Kashmir Post.