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Article 370 : Gupkar Parties Await Verdict, BJP Urges To Respect Supreme Court’s Decision; Security Agencies Vigilant

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SRINAGAR, Dec 10:  With the Supreme Court to pronounce its verdict on Monday on the constitutional validity of the Centre’s decision to abrogate controversial Article 370, several parties in Jammu and Kashmir expressed hope that the provision will be restored, while on the ground authorities have made “adequate” security arrangements.

The BJP said that there should not be any politics on the Supreme Court ruling and everyone should respect it.

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National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said his party will not disturb the peace in Jammu and Kashmir even in case of an adverse verdict from the Supreme Court on the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and will continue its fight in accordance with the law.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said the court’s verdict should be clear that the decision taken by the BJP-led central government was “illegal”.

The NC and PDP are part of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), also called the Gupkar Alliance, which was formed by parties in J-K to fight for the restoration of Article 370.

Another former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed hope that the Supreme Court will deliver a verdict in favour of the people.

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A slew of restrictions were placed in J-K and scores of leaders were detained or put under house arrest when Article 370 which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was scrapped and J-K was bifurcated into Union territories on August 5, 2019.

Despite apprehensions expressed by many parties about the aftermath, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had stressed that “not a drop of blood was shed” during the critical period.

Scrapping Article 370 was among the core issues of BJP’s agenda and had been consistently included in its election manifestos.

Omar Abdullah on Sunday said his party will continue its fight for the restoration of the rights of people through peaceful means as laid down in the Constitution.

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“The Supreme Court has to give its verdict, let it. If we had to disturb the situation, we would have done it after 2019.

“However, we said it then and we reiterate it now that our fight will be peaceful and as per the Constitution, taking the help of the law to protect our rights and preserve our identity. What is wrong in it? Don’t we have a right to say this in a democracy? Can’t we raise objections in a democracy? If others can talk, why not us?” Omar said at a party convention at Rafiabad in Baramulla district.

Abdullah claimed that police had been summoning National Conference leaders to police stations since Saturday night and “intimidating” them.

“The Supreme Court has not passed a verdict yet. How do you know what is the verdict? Maybe it is in our favour! Then what is the need to call my party colleagues to police stations…

“Allah willing, if the verdict goes against them (BJP), what will you do if they start writing against it on Facebook?” he asked.

Abdullah said there was no justification to put curbs on National Conference leaders as they have always been votaries of peace.

“We had knocked at the door of the Supreme Court in the hope of getting justice and that sentiment persists even today,” he said.

Azad said only two institutions that can return articles 370 and 35A to the people of Jammu and Kashmir – Parliament and the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court bench is non-partisan and we hope that it will give a decision in favour of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he told reporters here.

Azad, who floated the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) after parting ways with the Congress, said he cannot foresee Parliament reversing the decisions taken on August 5, 2019 as it would require a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha.

Azad said the people of Jammu and Kashmir, irrespective of their religion or ethnicity, have an emotional attachment to the special provisions of the Constitution that were repealed four years ago.

“It is important that these (provisions) are restored for securing our present and future,” he said.

BJP’s J-K unit chief Ravinder Raina said the apex court has heard both sides through a transparent process.

“We are confident that it will no longer remain a political issue after the Supreme Court verdict. We are all citizens of this democratic country and everyone should respect and accept whatever the decision the honourable Supreme Court takes.

“Our judiciary is the greatest. There should be no politics on the verdict,” Raina said.

Mehbooba Mufti said it is the apex court’s responsibility to ensure that it does not push the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) agenda, but keeps the integrity of the country and its Constitution intact.

“I think the decision should be simple that whatever was done on August 5, 2019 was illegal, unconstitutional, against Jammu and Kashmir and the promises made to the people here,” she said.

Meanwhile, authorities said they have made adequate security arrangements to ensure that peace is not disturbed.

“We are duty-bound to ensure that peace prevails in the Valley under all circumstances,” Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir Zone V K Birdi told PTI.

While the IGP refused to divulge specifics of the security set-up for Monday, he said “adequate arrangements” have been put in place.

“We are taking all precautions and will ensure that peace is not disturbed in Kashmir,” Birdi, who held security review meetings in most of the 10 valley districts over the last two weeks, said.

Asked if orders invoking section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) on the misuse of social media were related to the Supreme Court’s expected judgment, he said there have been several incidents of some elements trying to provoke people with their posts.

“Action has been taken against such elements in the past and action will be taken in the future as well,” he added.

Authorities here have issued guidelines for social media users under CrPC section 144 to curb the spread of any content that is communally sensitive or promotes terrorism and secessionism.

“The guidelines aim to provide clarity on actions citizens should take when encountering content related to terrorism, secessionism, threats, intimidation or communally-sensitive material on social media platforms,” the circular, issued by police in several districts, read.

A five-judge bench of the apex court reserved its verdict on the petitions on September 5 after conducting daily hearings on the matter from August 2.

According to the cause list for December 11 (Monday), uploaded on the apex court’s website, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud would deliver the verdict.

The other members of the bench are Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai and Surya Kant.

The first petition challenging the presidential order scrapping Article 370 was filed by advocate M L Sharma, who was later joined by another lawyer from Jammu and Kashmir, Shakir Shabir.

National Conference filed a petition on August 10. The petition was filed by Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, both Lok Sabha members of the NC.

There are other petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370, including a plea filed by a group of former defence officers and bureaucrats. (PTI)

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