Normal life in Kashmir came to a halt on Saturday 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 four police station areas — Maharajgunj, 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.