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  • An Indian security personnel stands guard on a deserted road during restrictions after scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, August 23, 2019.

    An Indian security personnel stands guard on a deserted road during restrictions after scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, August 23, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 August 2019

The court in Wednesday’s preliminary hearing said a five-judge constitution bench would hear all 14 petitions in the first week of October.

India’s Supreme court has agreed to hear legal challenges against far-right President Narendra Modi administration’s scrapping of Article 370, which granted a measure of autonomy to the Indian Occupied Kashmir state.

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The court in Wednesday’s preliminary hearing said a five-judge constitution bench would hear all 14 petitions in the first week of October. It also demanded the government reply within seven days to a petition filed by the editor of the Kashmir Times, seeking an end to the communications blackout and media restrictions.

Amnesty International has said the 23-day block on phone lines and internet is denying Kashmiris their right to freedom of speech. Since the clampdown, virtually no independent information has emerged from elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley but Srinagar.

“Kashmiris are unable to move freely, properly access emergency services or medical care, communicate or express themselves. Back the call to uphold civil liberties,” Human Rights Watch South Asia Director, Meenakshi Ganguly tweeted.

More than 4,000 protesters, leaders, and activists remain in various forms of detention. Indian authorities reimposed restrictions on movement in major parts of Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, last week. 

On Aug. 5 Modi’s government revoked the special status of Kashmir and Jammu by removing a constitutional provision that prevented non-Kashmiris to purchase any property in the Muslim-majority state. 

The move will now allow Indian Hindus can purchase properties in Jammu and Kashmir, which activists say warned would be a similar policy to that of Israeli settlements in Palestine. 

Along with revoking the special status, the government divided the state in two Union Territories, meaning they will be ruled by the federal government while losing statehood. 

The constitutional provisions revoked Monday were the bedrock of the treaty of accession from 1947 through which Jammu and Kashmir's ruler acceded his region to Indian territory.

For 30 years, Occupied Kashmir is fighting for its independence in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. Critics say the decision to revoke autonomy will cause further alienation and fuel the armed resistance.

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