SRINAGAR: A shutdown observed in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) Sunday to protest the move of legally abrogating a law - Article 35-A of Indian constitution - that confers special status to restive IHK.
The two-day strike beginning on Sunday was called by region's separatist groups and supported by civil society, fearing it would change the demography of the Muslim majority region of IHK.
Article 35-A of Indian constitution confers special rights and privileges on permanent residents of IHK and bars residents from other Indian states from buying land or property, getting a government job or voting in the local elections. Markets, business establishments remained closed and public transport remained off the roads. A senior railway official said domestic train services have also been suspended in the region for two days.
Several petitions were filed in Supreme Court challenging Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution. The main petition was filed by 'We the Citizens', a Delhi-based NGO in 2014 arguing that Article 35-A was unconstitutional because it was added by a presidential order without the approval of Indian Parliament.
The top court is scheduled to hear the matter today (Monday). Authorities fearing protests have deployed contingents of police and paramilitary at sensitive places in city and other towns.
"A complete shutdown was observed across the region and so far no reports of any untoward incident have been received," a senior police official said. "We are monitoring the situation closely."
India's ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) however dismissed people's fears and said the abrogation of the Article would open avenues for the region. "It will open up avenues for the state for people from rest of the country would readily come and invest here in various sectors," BJP spokesperson Sunil Sethi told the media.
A guerrilla war challenging New Delhi's rule is going on in IHK since 1989. Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan is claimed by both in full. Since their Independence from Britain, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.