Kashmir On Edge: Strike halts life across Kashmir, Chenab Valley, Pirpanjal

Article 35A Row: Protests across Kashmir, restrictions in Srinagar parts, Separatists caged, SC hearing today

Normal life was badly hit in Kashmir, Chenab valley and Pir Panjal region on Thursday due to the unprecedented shutdown following a strike called by Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) against the challenging of Article 35-A, the hearing of which is scheduled for Friday in the Supreme Court (SC).
While authorities imposed restriction in Srinagar downtown, people largely observed civil curfew in protest against the attempts of tinkering with Article 35-A that provides special rights and privileges to Jammu Kashmir residents.
Restrictions were imposed in areas falling within the police station jurisdiction of Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Maharaj Gunj and Safa Kadal in downtown while partial restrictions were in place at Kralkhud and Maisuma areas of Srinagar uptown.
The contingents of Police and CRPF men were deployed in downtown and other sensitive parts of the Valley to maintain law and order and foil protests.
An official said restrictions would likely continue in these areas as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order on Friday in view of the JRL call for a shutdown against the hearing of Article 35-A.
Roads wore a deserted look as the public and private transport remained off the roads and even two-wheelers and three-wheelers were not visible on the roads across the Valley.
While shops, business establishments, fuel stations, most government and private offices remained closed in Srinagar and other district headquarters of Kashmir, authorities also suspended local train services due to apprehensions of protests and clashes.
Peaceful protests were held in parts of Kashmir valley against the petitions challenging the Article 35-A.
In Srinagar, Industrialist Association Khonmoh staged a protest demonstration at Lal Chowk.
Carrying banners and placards, the protesting industrialists demanded the dismissal of petitions and protection of Article 35-A.
Protests favouring Article 35-A were also held at Tangdar in Kupwara, Tral in Pulwama and Kangan in Ganderbal.
Meanwhile, Kishtwar, Doda, Baderwah and Banihal in Chenab Valley and Rajouri and Poonch in Pir Panjal region also observed shutdown to express resentment against any attempt to abrogate Article 35-A.
The JRL comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik had called for a strike on August 30 and 31 against the “proposed tinkering” with Article 35-A.
The JRL’s two-day strike has been supported by the business fraternity, tourism player, lawyers, and civil society members.
Geelani continues to remain under house arrest while Mirwaiz, and Javid Mir, who is the head of a faction of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, were put under house arrest to prevent them from taking out any protest rally.
JKLF Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik and Peoples Political Party head Hilal War have gone into hiding.
“Despite curbs, curfews and house arrest, complete strike across J&K as people express their strong resentment and 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 and conviction,” Mirwaiz tweeted.
This is for the third time that a complete shutdown was observed against the attempts at scrapping or diluting the special law.
Earlier, Kashmir and Chenab valley observed a complete strike on August 5 and 6 against the petitions challenging the article in the apex court.
People are unequivocally seeking to dismiss the petitions challenging Article 35-A, which bars non-state residents from buying or owning immovable property, having citizenship, or availing scholarship schemes and government jobs in the State.
Meanwhile, various organisations of Doda staged protest demonstrations in the region.
The protests were organised under the banner of Joint Civil Society Doda, Jammu and Kashmir along with various organisation including Senior Citizens Council, Forum for Peace and Civil Libraries, Trade Unions, Chenab Citizen Forum, Contractors Association, Private School Association, Doda Welfare Society, Haq-o-Insaaf, District Rural Youth Welfare Association and Bar Association members.
Scores of people from Doda district assembled at Doda and held a strong protest demonstration against any attempt to abrogate Article 35-A.
The protest started from Municipal Committee Office Doda were the protestors shouted slogans and carried banners and placards calling for saving Article 35-A.
The rally passed through the main market of Doda town and culminated at Old Bus Stand Doda.
Markets, private schools, and other commercial establishments in Doda town and adjoining areas remained closed while traffic remained off the roads.
Life in Mandi and Surankote tehsils of Poonch district also remained severely affected as all shops and business establishments remained closed across the region while transport remained off the road due to the strike called against Article 35-A hearing in the apex court.
The government forces were deployed in strength at sensitive places of Mandi, Poonch and Surankote to thwart any untoward incident during the shutdown.
The protesters said if the Supreme Court would not give a decision in favour of Jammu Kashmir then it would not worsen the situation in Pir Panjal region.