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All Fingers Crossed in J&K Ahead of the SC Verdict on Article 370

Anees Zargar |
“It will not be a favour to us, it is a question of our rights, the question of dignity and of constitutionality which guaranteed those rights to the people of J&K," said Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who is also among the petitioners.
Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India. Image Courtesy:  Wikimedia Commons

Srinagar: People in Jammu and Kashmir are eagerly waiting for the Supreme Court of India to pronounce its judgement on the abrogation of Article 370 carried out on August 5, 2019, by the New Delhi government. Many have pinned their hopes on the apex court believing it will reinstate the special status of the region while others remain sceptical.

The top court is set to pronounce its judgement on a batch of over 20 pleas, which challenged the abrogation of Article 370, on Monday after its verdict in the matter was reserved earlier on September 5 following a 16-day long hearing. A five-member bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant heard the matter. 

In Jammu and Kashmir, however, there is little fervour even as many see a ray of hope in the judgement. Ahead of the verdict, the security establishment held a joint meeting chaired by ADGP Law and Order Vijay Kumar earlier on Friday at the Police Control Room (PCR) which was attended by senior police and civil administration.

Member of Parliament Justice (Retd) Hasnain Masoodi, who is one of the petitioners challenging the scrapping of Article 370, told NewsClick that given the arguments made in the court, he is hopeful that their stand against the move will be vindicated.

Masoodi had described the abrogation as an “illegal" decision and subsequently sought directions from the top court to declare the presidential order unconstitutional. 

“We rushed to the top court immediately after the decision, which trampled on our rights, was carried out. The court entertained our plea and also referred it to the 5-member constitutional bench which is good. We hope that the decision will come out against the revocation, which clearly was in violation of our constitution,” Masoodi said.  

Many in J&K’s capital city of Srinagar, however, are less hopeful over the upcoming judgement. Naeem Akhtar, former minister and senior leader in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is one of those who aren’t expecting any breakthrough on Monday.

“I have zero expectations and I only wish that I am proven wrong but I don’t think it is likely,” Akhtar said. Though, he clarified that it is his personal view and doesn’t reflect his party’s stand on the issue.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti expressed deep concerns about the impending Supreme Court judgment on the legality of the abrogation of 370. Mufti, who was in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara for a party function, asserted that any decision contrary to this established process would not only be against the Constitution but also against the very spirit of the idea of India. Mufti expressed hope that the Supreme Court would recognize the enduring consequences, transcending political transitions.

The decision to scrap the article, which gave special rights to the residents of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, was carried out against the wishes of dissenting residents and the regional leadership, who were imprisoned to thwart any opposition. The former state was subsequently divided into two union territories including Ladakh, where people despite initial jubilation later joined the opposition claiming that the move had put their identity and security at risk.

Sajjad Kargili, a prominent political activist from Kargil, which is now part of the Ladakh UT, said that the Supreme Court’s decision is important as people expect justice for not just Ladakh but the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We have pinned hopes in the apex court for relief and people hope that they don’t have to witness a judgement like one pronounced in the case of Babri Masjid demolition. We hope that the SC will keep in mind the aspirations of the people,” said Kargili, who is also part of the Kargil Democratic Alliance (KDA). 

He added that a judgment contrary to the people’s aspiration will be “unfortunate” as they are already marred by insecurity and alienation that he believes will increase in case their rights are not restored.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who is also among the petitioners, is also hopeful about the judgement.

“It will not be a favour to us, it is a question of our rights, the question of dignity and of constitutionality which guaranteed those rights to the people of J&K. What happened on August 2019 was an assault on the constitution, on the bond that connected J&K with the union of India,” he told NewsClick

The senior leader added that it cannot be seen in isolation and it is not just about his petition but about everyone including the people of the country. “What happened to us in the wake of the decision which divided our state into two union territories can happen elsewhere tomorrow so it is important that justice happens and the constitution is safeguarded,” he argued.

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