Day after low key Eid al-Adha in Jammu and Kashmir, Supreme Court to hear plea against abrogation of Article 370

FP Staff

On a day when Jammu and Kashmir marked its first Eid al-Adha after the revocation of its special status, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday asked Twitter to block eight accounts on its platform for allegedly spreading rumours about the prevailing situation in the region.

Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba recommended the suspension of the following accounts: @kashmir787 (Voice of Kashmir), @Red4Kashmir (Madiha Shakil Khan), @arsched (Arshad Sharif), @mscully94 (Mary Scully), @sageelaniii (Syed Ali Geelani), @sadaf2k197, @RiazKha61370907, and @RiazKha723. While Sharif is a journalist with ARY News, Scully works with Pakistan Today.

Before the development, the Kashmir Police took up a tweet by Pakistani journalist Wajahat Saeed Khan, with the Twitter support team. The tweet alleged that a Kashmiri policeman killed five CRPF personnel "after they refused to let a pregnant woman" travel "because she didn't have a curfew pass". The Kashmir Police called the tweet "malicious" and said that it "strongly rebutted" it.

The Eid al-Adha prayers on Monday morning were offered at various mosques in Kashmir, but the festive buzz was missing with curfew-like restrictions in place across the Valley.

In the evening, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) SP Pani and Jammu and Kashmir principal secretary Rohit Kansal addressed a press conference in Srinagar, saying that the festivities passed peacefully, barring a few minor incidents.

Pani said the Jammu and Kashmir administration was committed to maintain peace and order and the state police worked in this direction. "The Eid namaz was offered in different mosques and after the prayers, the congregations dispersed peacefully. There have been a couple of minor, localised incidents of law and order which have been handled very professionally.

"In these incidents, there have been a couple of injuries which have been reported. Otherwise, the entire Valley situation is peaceful," he said.

Referring to the law and order situation, Pani said some arrests were made but these were "absolutely in the ambit of law" and all those arrested were produced before the court and legal actions are being taken. "At this stage, every district has got its own priority and depending on the local situation, depending on the incident, they respond and they try to maintain the order," he said.

Pani also said there has been a malicious campaign on social media and the contents of these were strongly refuted by the police. "We request citizens not to pay attention to such things. We have strongly denied this," he said, referring to a tweet by the Pakistani journalist.

Kansal asserted that not a single bullet was fired by the security forces in the Valley on Monday. "There have been some reports in the media about firing by security agencies and deaths. The police carried out a detailed briefing and I would like to reiterate and categorically deny that any firing incident has happened in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

He said the authorities were watching the situation very carefully and the overall policy of the government has been to ease restrictions as much as possible. "You saw relaxation of restrictions on Saturday, you saw greater relaxation of restrictions on Sunday, on Eid you saw people being facilitated. I told you that there was large Eid congregations in a number of places. If you carry out a round of the market, you will see traffic moving, people being facilitated to go and greet relatives," he said.

However, he said the situation was dynamic and the administration will not allow any mischievous elements to disturb the peace at any cost. "For this purpose, reasonable restrictions were required to be imposed," he said.

On the eve of Eid al-Adha, restrictions were eased in the Valley to allow people to shop for the festival. National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, who had been in the Valley since 9 August, on Monday carried out a recce of Srinagar to assess the situation on the ground. He visited sensitive areas in Srinagar such as Soura, Pampore, Lal Chowk, and Hazratbal and also visited Budgam, Pulwama and Awantipora districts.

SC to hear plea against restrictions tomorrow

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Tuesday a plea by activist and Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla against the Centre's decision to impose restrictions and "other regressive measures" in Jammu and Kashmir.

The plea is listed for hearing before a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah and Ajay Rastogi.

A separate petition filed by Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin, seeking removal of restrictions imposed on working of journalists in the state after the scrapping of provisions of Article 370, is also likely to be mentioned for urgent listing in the apex court on Tuesday.

Poonawalla has also sought a direction from the top court for the release of leaders like former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who are under detention. He has further sought setting up of a judicial commission to inquire into ground realities there.

Row over BBC report 

The BBC on Sunday released a statement saying that it "stands by its journalism and we strongly refute any claims that we have misrepresented events in Kashmir". "We are covering the situation impartially and accurately. Like other broadcasters we are currently operating under severe restrictions in Kashmir but we will continue to report what is happening," it said.

The statement came after the BBC received criticism for sharing footage of a "mass protest" in Kashmir following the recent developments in the region. The British broadcaster claimed that the police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, but "the Indian government has said the protest never took place". BBC's reportage of the recent events in Kashmir also kicked off a debate on Twitter over the broadcaster's use of "India-occupied Kashmir" to describe the region. Many users, including filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, lashed out at BBC and asked why it didn't call Northern Ireland "British-occupied Ireland".

Pakistan media regulator's advisory

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority€‹ (PEMRA) sparked a controversy after it "requested" media not to air special programmes on Eid, and on 15 August, to "project two nation theory, Indian atrocities against Muslims and minorities in India and Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir". Interestingly, Pakistan science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhary called PEMRA's action a "totally unnecessary intervention".

Meanwhile, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked Opposition parties to be united on the Kashmir issue. Addressing the media in Muzaffarabad, Qureshi said the entire "Pakistani nation and political leadership is united on the issue of Kashmir and one voice will be sounded on 14 August in support of Kashmiris." Pakistan has planned to observe 14 August €" its Independence Day €" as 'Kashmir Solidarity Day' and 15 August as 'Black Day' in view of the scrapping of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Normal life in the Valley has been paralysed owing to heavy security deployment, restrictions on movement and curtailing of communication links after the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and moved a bill proposing bifurcation of the state on 5 August.

President Ram Nath Kovind declared the abrogation of special status given to Jammu and Kashmir after both the Houses of Parliament passed a resolution in this regard.

On Saturday, he gave assent to a bill passed by the Parliament to split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories €" Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh €" which will come into existence on 31 October.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Article 370 revoked: Cooperation between Centre and new UTs will be key to governance, realisation of aspirations

Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh to be UTs from 31 October, says MHA; prohibitory orders withdrawn from Jammu

In Pakistan Parliament, Imran Khan addresses plan to move UNSC, says revocation of Article 370 by India may lead to war

Read more on India by Firstpost.