September 2019 News

Kashmir Media Restrictions, Political Detentions: SC To Hear Multiple Pleas On Article 370 Today

15 September 2019
India Today

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday is scheduled to hear petitions against the media and communication restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, which were imposed in the Valley following the revocation of Article 370 as well as the validity of the abrogation in itself. Provisions of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which was passed in 1954 through a Presidential Order, was scrapped by the Narendra Modi government on August 5. The Union government also passed a bill that split the state into two Union Territories-Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer will be also hearing a bunch fresh petitions, including the one filed by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad seeking permission to visit his family members and relatives. The list of petitions to be heard today include: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had tried to visit the state twice after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions in Jammu and Kashmir but was sent back from the airport by the authorities, has sought a nod from the top court to visit his family members. Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference party led by Sajjad Lone has also challenged the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and the validity of the state Re-organization Bill. Child right activists Enakshi Ganguly and Professor Shanta Sinha have also filed a plea against the alleged illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir since the revocation of special status. A plea of Rajya Sabha MP and MDMK founder Vaiko is also listed for hearing, in which he has sought a direction to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir to produce former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, allegedly under detention following the abrogation of Article 370, before the court. In his plea, Vaiko has said that authorities should allow Abdullah to attend a 'peaceful and democratic' annual conference, being organised in Chennai on September 15, on the occasion of the birthday of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister C N Annadurai. The plea of CPI(M) Sitaram Yechury who had moved the apex court seeking to see his ailing party colleague Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami is also among the batch of petitions listed for hearing. The top court had allowed him to pay a visit to Tarigami but with certain conditions and had granted him liberty to file a report on his return. The plea of Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin seeking the removal of media restrictions imposed in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370 will also be taken up along with some other petitions. Media suffers from crackdown The top court is going to hear the petition of Anuradha Bhasin, the Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, who told the court that even after a month of annulling provisions of Article 370, journalists in the Valley were 'not allowed to move freely'. 'It is difficult for journalists to travel beyond Srinagar, making it difficult to report,' the editor further alleged. However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pointed out to the court that editors of Kashmir Times chose not to publish their newspaper from Srinagar. Meanwhile, advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the journalist, claimed that the Editor-in-chief of Kashmir Times travelled to many parts in the Valley and according to her, media cannot work due to 'communication restrictions'. With no internet and mobile services in the Kashmir Valley for more than 40 days now, journalists in the Valley are having a hard time. This is despite the government's makeshift media centre, that is the only means of connection with the rest of the world. Four computers and a lone cell phone were available to cater to hundreds of journalists both local as well as from outside the state. In order to avoid any untoward incident of violence, the Valley continues to remain under heavy lockdown, barring relaxation of a few telephone lines. Even though landline phones have been restored early this month, mobile services and the internet - on any platform - remain snapped. Harried journalists are now demanding that the government should at least restore broadband connections of media houses.