SRINAGAR: The Supreme Court decision to defer hearing on petitions challenging validity of Article 35A till August 27 has provided a temporary relief to people of Jammu and Kashmir, where normal life in Valley and parts of Jammu was paralysed for second consecutive day on Monday against any tinkering with the law that bars outsiders from purchasing property and getting government jobs in the State.
The tension eased a bit in Kashmir, Doda, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Rajouri and Poonch after Supeme Court announced deferring of hearing of petitions challenging validity of Article 35A till the week starting August 27. "It is a temporary relief. However, the uncertainty continues," said a political analyst Aadil Ahmad.
The PDP president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted that even though the deferment of hearing is not a solution but it has brought an interim relief to people of J&K. "But with uncertainty looming over its status, it has unleashed a wave of anxiety and panic amongst the people of J&K," she said adding, "Any attempt to fiddle with the law will amount to violating the basic structure of Indian constitution".
NC spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu said the deferment of the hearing on Article 35A does not remove the sense of anxiety and the apprehensions in J&K. Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing, Kashmir was tense. For second consecutive day today, Valley and parts of Jammu region observed complete shutdown to support continuation of Article 35A and protest any attempt to tinker with the law, which grants special privileges to residents of the State.
All shops, business establishments, petrol pumps and educational institutions remained closed in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir while working in government offices and banks was badly hit by the strike. The public and private transport was off the roads. People preferred to remain indoors. The Shikarawalas also observed shutdown. The shopkeepers in tourorts of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Yousmarg also observed complete shutdown.
The two-day shutdown was called by separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik against any tinkering of the Article 35A. The traders, lawyers, civil society members, transporters, academicians had supported the bandh call. The traders staged protests in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley and vowed to safeguard Article 35A and oppose any attempt to abrogate the law tooth and nail. The traders in Srinagar tried to march towards United Nations office to hand over memorandum to UN observers.
However, the protesting traders were intercepted by policemen and prevented from moving towards the UN office. Police also detained some of the protesting traders. After deferment of hearing by Supreme Court, separatist leaders said protests against any tinkering of Article 35A would continue in the Valley. They said two-day shutdown in the State has sent a clear message to Government of India (GoI) that people will never allow nefarious design against them to succeed.
Reacting to separatists shutdown and protests call, former Chief Minister and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah tweeted, "Protecting Article35A is a tacit acceptance that J&K's future lies within the Constitution of India, otherwise how would it matter if it were struck down or diluted".