India: Court asks gov’t to restore normalcy in Kashmir

By Shuriah Niazi

NEW DELHI, India (AA) – India’s Supreme Court on Monday urged the government to restore normalcy to Jammu and Kashmir, with its top judge said he may visit the region himself.

Ranjan Gogoi noted that he would travel to the region if required, amid allegations that its residents were having difficulty approaching the high court there due to restrictions imposed since Aug. 5, when the government revoked the state’s special status.

Hearing a petition filed by child rights activist Enakshi Ganguly on the state of children in Jammu and Kashmir, the court told Ganguly she should go to the state high court in order to secure action under its “aegis”, according to New Delhi-based broadcaster NDTV.

Following Ganguly’s response that it was difficult to approach the court, NDTV quoted Gogoi: “Why is it difficult to go to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court? Is anyone coming in the way? We want to know from the Chief Justice [High Court]. If required, I will go to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.”

The court also asked the central and Jammu and Kashmir administrations to respond to pleas to produce former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who has now been detained under the stringent Public Safety Act — which enables authorities to detain any individual for two years without trial.

The apex court also asked the government to endeavor to restore normalcy in Kashmir as soon as possible.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was also allowed by the Supreme Court on Monday to visit four districts in Kashmir — Baramulla, Anantnag, Srinagar, and Jammu — after earlier being denied permission. The court asked Azad, who will be escorted by security agencies and has been forbidden to hold any political rally, to file a report after his visit.

Meanwhile, a meeting among senior government official was organized on Monday at the Ministry of Home Affairs. Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Home Secretary AK Bhalla and Intelligence officials were present in the meeting, in which the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir were discussed.

Jammu and Kashmir has been facing a communications blackout since Aug. 5, when New Delhi stripped the disputed region of special provisions guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

Security forces were deployed at strength in many places to maintain law and order amid unrest over India’s treatment of the region.

From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir had special provisions under which it enacted its own laws. The provisions also protected the region’s citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights groups, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.
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