Srinagar, Aug 27: Spontaneous shutdown was observed even as clashes broke out on Monday between protesters and security forces in several parts of Kashmir valley, including the summer capital, Srinagar, over rumours of Article 35 A being scrapped.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, police immediately issued a statement that the news was baseless and urged people to maintain calm and not pay heed to such rumours.
A fresh petition against the Article 35-A came up for hearing on Monday in the Supreme Court (SC) though the apex court adjoined it till August 31.
Article 35-A, which empowers J&K legislature to define state’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges, is facing a legal challenge in the SC.
Official sources told media that spontaneous shutdown is being observed in many parts of Srinagar, including Lal Chowk and downtown, and in south Kashmir district of Anantnag. “Announcements were being made on loudspeakers that Article 35-A has been scrapped. People were being asked to observe a strike and come out to protest,” they added.
Life in Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, Srinagar and adjoining areas came to a grinding halt as shops and business establishments, which reopened in the morning, downed shutters as rumours about scrapping of Article 35-A spread over social media. Majority of the transport also went off the streets though few private vehicles, including three-wheelers, were moving on the roads in Srinagar.
Primary and secondary schools asked parents to take their children back to home after the protests, while classes were suspended in Higher Secondary Schools and colleges just few hours after the educational institutes resumed in the morning as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, minor clashes broke out near Amira Kadal while protestors fought a pitch battle with security forces in Safakadal in downtown after the rumour about scrapping of Article 35-A spread in the summer capital.
“Some section of the media had circulated news regarding Article 35 A. The news is refuted as baseless. People are requested to maintain calm and not to pay any heed to rumours. The main hearing on Article 35 A is on August 31,” the police statement read.
Clashes also erupted in several parts of south Kashmir, where security forces fired in the air, burst teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse demonstrators who hit the streets after rumours.
Life also came to halt in Anantnag and parts of Pulwama district in south Kashmir after rumours that Article 35 A has been scrapped. Majority of the educational institutes in south Kashmir closed their respective schools in the afternoon in view of the tense situation.
The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq and Mohammad Yaseen Malik, has called for a general strike for two days from August 30 against any move to weaken the Article.