Days ahead of the hearing of petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the Article 35-A in Jammu and Kashmir, clashes and a spontaneous shutdown were reported in the Valley. The immediate triggers included rumours around the scrapping of Article-35A, which gives special rights and privileges to people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Clashes erupted in Anantnag and Safakadal where security forces were attacked with stones. The police have rubbished speculation and requested people to maintain calm and advised them to steer clear of such rumours. Markets were closed and public transport remained off the roads as rumours apread in the Valley.
Meanwhile, a fresh petition by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay seeking the scrapping of the article will be heard in the top court today. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra will hear a bunch of petitions on Friday.
"Some sections of the media have circulated news regarding scrapping of the Article 35-A. The news has been refuted as baseless. People are requested to maintain calm and not to pay heed to these rumours," the Jammu and Kashmir Police said in a statement.
Article 35A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, bars people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to acquire any immovable property in the state and gives special privileges to residents in jobs and scholarships.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has warned that fiddling with the state's special status would have "catastrophic ramifications" for the entire country.
The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), comprising separatists Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, has called for a general shutdown on Friday and Saturday to highlight the public support for the Article.
"The statewide protest by JRL against this nefarious move will be observed on 30th & 31st Aug. However, protests by different segments of society will continue," Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had tweeted three days ago.
The top court had fixed the hearing for August 31 after the state government applied for its adjournment earlier this month citing "ongoing preparations for the upcoming panchayat and urban local body and municipal elections in the state".
The previous panchayat polls were held in 2011, while the urban body elections have not been held in the last 13 years.