05 Aug 2018
Article 35A: Amarnath Yatra suspended amid protests before SC hearing
Written byGogona SaikiaIndia
Outfits have threatened a mass agitation if the court strikes it down.
Movement of pilgrims on the Jammu-Srinagar highway has been restricted fearing violence. Till tomorrow, no one will be allowed to move from the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas.
What is Article 35A?
Article 35A bestows special privileges on the J&K government and the state's 'permanent residents.'
Some of these include restrictions on people from outside the state buying immovable property in J&K or settling there permanently.
Outsiders can't be hired by the state government either, nor can they avail state-sponsored scholarship schemes.
The article was added to the Constitution through a 1954 Presidential Order.
Batch of petitions in the SC against Article 35A
Several petitions have challenged the article in the SC, arguing it was added in the Constitution as an "appendix" and not amendment.
Since the president couldn't have "amended the Constitution" through the 1954 order, it was only a "temporary provision," and so should be now held "unconstitutional."
The J&K government has defended it, claiming the president has the power to incorporate new constitutional provisions.
Protests have rocked the Kashmir valley ahead of hearing
The SC is set to hear five clubbed petitions at 2pm tomorrow. Meanwhile, protests have continued in Kashmir.
In Srinagar, Moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik led separate marches in support of Article 35A.
Demonstrations also rocked Kangan and Sonamarg in Ganderbal, and Bandipora.
In Anantnag, traders took out a march from Lal Chowk to Court Road.
Two-month long Amarnath Yatra already suspended once
The 2018 Yatra, which began on June 28 and will end on August 26, has already been suspended once last month on Burhan Wani's death anniversary.
The security cover this time is the largest ever: police stations, posts, and check-points have been strengthened; bullet-proof SUV police convoys and scores of bullet-proof bunkers deployed; and forces are maintaining the "highest level of alertness."
For now, only pilgrims at Baltal and Pahalgam can continue
For today and tomorrow, movement of pilgrims has been suspended. However, those at the Baltal and Pahalgam base camps have been allowed to continue. Special check-posts have been set up in Udhampur and Ramban. Till now, over 2.71L pilgrims have performed the Yatra this year.