Over 20 days after the central government announced abrogation of Section 370 and Article 35A in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, human rights defender Shehla Rashid today challenged scraping of Article 370 from Kashmir in Supreme Court. Rashid, who is a JNU alumnus, is joined by former-civil-servant-turned-political-leader Shah Faesal in filing the petition.
A total of seven petitioners including Rashid and Faesal have moved the apex court in challenging the removal of Section 370 of J&K and the J&K Reorganisation Act which has bifurcated the state into two Union Territories. A constitutional bench of the SC will hear all the petitions filed in this matter on Wednesday i.e. August 28.
On August 5, President Ram Nath Kovind signed a presidential order which revoked the special status given to J&K and Ladakh. The central government also shut down communication lines and internet in the valley from a day before the abrogation of articles.
It has been 23 days and the valley continues to be under the cover of indefinite curfew and communication clampdown. There are reports of occasional protests from Kashmir but on the face of it, people’s lives continue to be affected by the order with no sight of normalcy yet.
Rashid and Faesal among many others have been raising concerns around the treatment of people in the valley. Last week Rashid shared a tweet thread on her Twitter page documenting the situation in J&K with respect to the communication blackout and how the Kashmiris in the state-turned-union-territory are holding up. She also alleged, “Armed forces are entering houses at night, picking up boys, ransacking houses, deliberately spilling rations on the floor, mixing oil with rice, etc.”
A few hours after she posted the tweets, a lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Rashid in the SC alleging that her tweets have shown discontentment with the government—an offence of Sedition under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
He also demanded immediate arrest of Rashid. Indian Army also felt it necessary to respond to Rashid’s tweets as it called the allegations levelled by Rashid “baseless and rejected.” “Such unverified & fake news is spread by inimical elements and organisations to incite unsuspecting population,” Army said, ANI tweeted.
Rashid commented on the sedition charges levelled against her and said, “Don’t let the topic of my arrest divert your attention from the human rights abuse going on in #Kashmir right now. These abuses are not in the service of the nation but in service of the ruling party’s political agenda. If I do get arrested, share this thread with the world.”