New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary B.V.R Subrahmanyam on Friday said the security clampdown and communication blackout in the region will be eased, holding a glimmer of hope for the local residents.
The next few days are likely to be crucial for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration, with security officials telling Mint that they are bracing for civil protests once the curfew was phased out.
The Centre has decided to resume landline services from Sunday, while schools are expected to reopen on Monday. Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had allowed government offices to start work from Friday.
Addressing reporters in Srinagar, Subrahmanyam, the senior bureaucrat responsible for Jammu and Kashmir affairs, defended the measures taken by the Centre, saying that it was necessary to thwart the “efforts by Pakistan to destabilize" the region.
Subrahmanyam said life in Srinagar will return to normal by Saturday, and BSNL is set to resume operations in a phased manner across all its exchanges.
“We have prevented any loss of human life despite concerted efforts by terror organisations and continued efforts by Pakistan to destabilize. There will be easing of restrictions over the next few days. Schools will be reopened after the weekend, public transport will be allowed gradually and all government offices were made fully functional from today. The situation after Friday prayers was also very calm," he added.
While 12 of the 22 districts in J&K were functioning normally, “telecom connectivity will be eased and restored in a phased manner keeping in mind the constant threat by terror organizations", he said.
“Preventive detentions are being reviewed and the appropriate decisions will be made," he said, referring to the house arrest of political leaders, including Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Shah Faesal.
Communications lines were snapped and curfew was imposed ahead of the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and the state’s bifurcation. An official familiar with the development said the internet shutdown will continue.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Friday adjourned hearing several cases challenging the abrogation of Article 370, and the restrictions imposed in J&K.
A special bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and comprising justices S.A. Bobde and S.A. Najeer, pulled up advocate M.L. Sharma for his petition that said the 5 August Presidential order was defective and not maintainable. “I tried to read your petition for half-an-hour but could not understand anything," said Gogoi. “In a matter of this nature, how can you file such a petition?"
“What kind of petition is this? It could have been dismissed but there are five other pleas with the registry, which are under defect," the bench said. “You are not praying for setting aside the Presidential order. What is the prayer it is not clear. It can be dismissed on technical grounds," he added.
Another petitioner, advocate Shakil Sabeer, complained that although he had cleared all the defects, his case was not being listed. Sabeer, a resident of Kashmir, had filed a petition against the scrapping of the special status.
The Supreme Court registry replied that the defects were rectified on Wednesday evening and, Thursday being a holiday, the case could not be listed for Friday.
“Why did you file a defective petition in the matter of this importance, then you expect an immediate listing" the bench told the lawyer. “You file a defective petition and trouble my officers," the CJI added.
The National Conference, one of the main political parties of Jammu and Kashmir, has also filed a petition challenging the changes made in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, contending that these have taken away the rights of its citizens without their mandate.
Another case listed for Friday morning before the special bench was filed by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of the Kashmir Times, seeking restoration of communication. The bench said it will wait for some time before passing any direction on the plea seeking removal of restrictions on the media in Jammu and Kashmir, as the Centre had said curbs are being lifted gradually.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Bhasin, said there was a need for early restoration of communication modes for journalists to carry out their work.