Separatists-sponsored strike affects normal life



SRINAGAR, Aug 12: Normal life in Kashmir came to a halt today due to a separatists-sponsored strike against the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution, which they termed as a move to change the demography of the Muslim- majority Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 35A of the Constitution defines the residency laws in Jammu and Kashmir and bars outsiders from buying any immovable property or applying for jobs in the state government.
Schools, colleges, shops, business establishments and private offices remained closed, officials said, adding that attendance in most government offices was very thin.
Buses stayed off the roads in most parts of Kashmir, while a few private vehicles could be seen plying, the officials said.
Authorities imposed restrictions on the movement of people in five police station areas -- Maharajgunj, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Nowhatta and Rainawari, apprehending violent protests.
The separatist camp, including both hardlne and moderate factions of the Hurriyat Conference and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), called for the complete shutdown.
They said the plea against Article 35A was part of plans to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir, which is a Muslim majority state.
The separatists said the strike was also against the "continuous killing of Kashmiris at the hands of Indian forces".
The Supreme Court had last month asked the Centre to file a reply within three weeks to a writ petition filed by an NGO seeking that Article 35A be struck down.
The plea said the state government, under the guise of Article 35A and Article 370, which grants special autonomous status to the state, has been discriminating against non- residents who are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections.
However, train services have again been suspended for security reasons in the Kashmir valley, where separatists had called for a strike today against alleged attempts to abrogate Article 35-A.
Traders and others have also supported the strike call given by both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference (HC) and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).
“We have suspended all train runs in the Kashmir valley,” a senior railway official said this morning.
“We have received an advisory from authorities and police to suspend all train services in the valley for security reasons,” he said.
Therefore, the officials said, no train will chug between Srinagar-Badgam in central Kashmir and Baramulla in north. Similarly, train service will remain suspended between Srinagar-Anantnag-Qazigund in south Kashmir to Banihal in Jammu region.
During the past about two months, train services have been suspended frequently for security reasons in the valley, where train property had suffered damage due to demonstration.
Last year, train service remained suspended for about six months due to summer unrest in the Valley.
However, daily travelers are the most affected due to suspension of train service which is now being considered most trusted, cheap and fast.

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