Article 35-A Unites Kashmir in Protest

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Srinagar—A near total shutdown was observed across Kashmir Valley as well as in Pir Panchal and Chenab Valley regions of the state against a plea filed by an RSS backed NGO in the Supreme Court of India seeking abrogation of Article 35A which confers special rights on J&K’s permanent residents.

The call for shutdown was issued by Joint Resistance Leadership against what it described as an “assault” on state’s special status and efforts to abrogate Article 35-A.

Reports of complete shutdown poured in from all the districts of Central, North and South Kashmir. All the shops and business establishments’ remianed shut while educational institutions also remained closed. Majority of the government offices were deserted, though there was a bank holiday on Saturday.

Undeclared restrictions were imposed in restive parts of old Srinagar city. Eyewitnesses said that heavy contingent of para-military forces had been deployed in downtown Srinagar to stop possible protests.

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Witnesses said that some parts of civil lines areas including Jawahar Nagar and Raj Baght where shopkeepers usually observe partial shutdown also witnessed complete shutdown. The roads wore a deserted look in most parts of Srinagar city.

Scores of traders staged a protest and marched through city centre Lal Chowk against the attempts to abrogate Article 35A. The traders led by Kashmir Economic Alliance, Chairman Muhammad Yousuf Chapri assembled here in Press Enclave Srinagar and later on carried out a march that culminated at Clock Tower, Lal Chowk. The protesting traders warned of serious consequences in case Article 35A is removed.

A complete shutdown was also observed in Budgam and Ganderbal districts of Central Kashmir where shops and educational institutions remained completely shut.

The shutdown completely disrupted normal life in four districts of South Kashmir including Anantnag (Islamabad), Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian. Similar reports poured in from North Kashmir’s districts of Baramulla, Bandipore and Kupwara. The main roads of these district headquarters wore a deserted look.

Complete shutdown was also observed in important town of Kashmir Valley including Pampore, Tral, Kakapora, Awantipora, Bijbehara, Qazigund, Dooru, Pahalgam, Kangan, Pakharpora, Charar-e-Sharif, Sumbal, Hajin, Ajas, Safapora, Pattan, Tangmarg, Rafiabad and Sopore.

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Shutdown was also observed in Chenab Valley of Jammu region, where Anjuman Islamia Bhadarwah, Markazi Seerat Committee Doda, Anjuman Islamia Gandoh, Masjid Committee Thathri and Majlis-e-Shoura Kishtwar had supported the bandh call.

Reports said that Doda, Gandoh and Thathri also observed complete shutdown on the band call.

Reports from Poonch and Rajouri in Pir Panchal valley also spoke of protests and strike.

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