August 2018 News

On Day 2, Resounding Strike Across Most Of J&K

6 August 2018
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: Life across Kashmir including Kargil district came to a standstill on the second consecutive day on Monday as the strike call by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) against the 'assault' on Article 35A evoked total response. Most separatist leaders continued to remain under house detention and preventive custody to keep them from leading protests. The JRL, comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik had called for a two-day protest shutdown on August 5 and 6 to protest the series of petitions filed in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of article 35A. The law grants special citizenship rights to the people of J&K and bars outsiders from buying land and other properties in the Muslim-majority state. The Supreme Court, has however, deferred the case until August 27, a day after the ongoing annual Amarnath pilgrimage ends. The JRL had asked people to be ready for a mass agitation if the court verdict comes against the interests of people of J&K. Likewise on August 5, Kashmir observed an exemplary strike on the second day on Monday. Witnesses said a shutdown was also observed in parts of Kargil district and in Chenab valley of Jammu region. Streets in Srinagar were deserted and a deathly silence of protest, including in the city center of LalChowk indicated the extent of support to the JRL call. Street vendors, cart pullers and fruit vendors too had closed their stalls to join protest. In a symbolic protest, the Shikara owners in the Dal Lake in downed the roofs of their boats to register their protest against moves aimed at seeking abrogation of Article 35 A of the Indian constitution. Schools, colleges and universities too remained shut on the second consecutive day, and government offices registered near-zero attendance, including the main seat of the government, the civil secretariat. Apprehending big protests, authorities deployed government forces in strength across downtown Srinagar. Peaceful protests were however held by various traders' organisations. They attempted to march to the UNMOGIP office in Sonwar here under the banner of Kashmir Economic Alliance. However, they were disallowed by the police. Every section of society including lawyers, traders, industrialists, hoteliers, transporters, students, and houseboat owners had extended full support to the JRL strike call, asserting they were ready to sacrifice 'everything' to protect their exclusive right to their land. Southern districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag also observed a complete shutdowm, reports said. A complete strike was similarly observed in the northern districts of Kupwara, Baramulla, and Bandipora. In Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir, lawyers staged a protest march in favour of Article 35 A. A witness said lawyers from the district Bar Association Ganderbal took out a protest march from the district court premises up to BeehamaChowk to voice support for the contested special constitutional provision. The protest march was led by president Bar Association Ganderbal, SajadHaider along with general secretary Sheikh Mustahseen. The Bar members later staged a sit-in protest in BeehamachowkGanderbal protesting against the attempts to abrogate Article 35A. Kargil district of Ladakh region also observed the strike in response to a call by Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust. Resistance leaders continued to remain caged in their homes. Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani continued confined to his Hyderpora residence, while Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has been under house confinement since Saturday. Chairman of JKLF, Muhammad Yasin Malik had gone into hiding. Other top separatist leaders including Engineer Hilal War, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, GhulamNabiSumjhi, Muhammad Ashraf Laya, Javaid Ahmed Mir, Zafar Akbar Bhat, Muhammad YosufNaqash, Mukhtar Ahmed Waza and many others were either placed under house detention or taken into preventive custody in various jails. The ongoing Amarnathyatra remained suspended like train services for the second consecutive day as a precautionary measure, official sources said. Meanwhile, J&K police chief Shesh Paul Vaid thanked people of J&K for maintaining discipline and peace while staging protests in favour of Article 35 A. 'People deserve applauds for resorting to peaceful means of protests. There was no violence anywhere in the past two days,' Vaid said.