Top court to hear petitions on revocation of Kashmir’s special status in October

New Delhi: India’s Supreme Court said on Wednesday that a five-member bench would hear in October several petitions challenging the government’s decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Earlier this month, the Indian government moved to abrogate laws that gave the region greater autonomy and also split it into two federally administered territories.
Thousands of troops were deployed in the restive valley as it was placed under a security and communications lockdown.
Although some restrictions have been eased, restrictions on mobiles and Internet continue and thousands of local political leaders and activists remain in detention.
Governor Satya Pal Malik, a federal government appointee, who now heads the administration in the region, said the restrictions were being removed gradually in view of maintaining law and order.
“So far our total focus has been on law and order so that no life is lost … Please bear with restrictions for 10-20 days,” Malik said at a press briefing in Srinagar, the region’s main city.
Malik said some “big development-related announcements” would be made soon for the region. “We have vacancies for 50,000 government jobs — we will recruit for these soon,” he added.
“Over 40,000 people have died, we don’t want more deaths,” governor Malik said.
He said there was more public transport on the roads every day and more than half of landline phone calls were working.
Mobile phones would be restored gradually though Internet may take longer as it is used to spread fake news and incite people, accordingto Malik.
“A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said a five-judge constitutional bench would hear these petitions in October,” Muzaffar Iqbal Khan, a Kashmiri lawyer who is one of the petitioners, said. Article 370 of the constitution gave Jammu and Kashmir autonomy except in areas of foreign affairs, defence and communications.
The petitioners contend the provision was revoked in an illegal and unconstitutional manner as it was done without consulting an elected government in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Supreme Court also ordered the government to allow Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury to meet his party colleague Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami in Srinagar. — dpa