NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court Monday directed the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government to restore normalcy in the state keeping in mind the ‘national interest’.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin who said she was not able to publish her newspaper from Srinagar as communication was “crippled” after the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370. Bhasin had said that even a month after the restrictions were imposed, she was still facing difficulties.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer said as the shutdown is in the Valley itself, it can be dealt with by the Jammu and Kasmir High Court. The top court also issued a notice to the Centre and state on Bhasin’s plea.
Opposing Bhasin’s submissions, the Centre has contented that all Kashmir-based newspapers are running and the government has been offering all kinds of assistance to journalists in the state.
“Media passes are given for access to restricted areas and journalists are given access to phones and Internet,” adding that “TV channels like Doordarshan and others private ones, as well as FM networks are also working.”
Not a single bullet has been fired in Jammu and Kashmir since restrictions were imposed in the state, Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said.
“Over 40,000 lives were lost in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990. Separatists even received funding from the Pakistan High Commission,” Venugopal informed the top court, adding that there was a three-pronged attack on J&K administration before August 5.
“By separatists funding stone pelters, by terrorists from across border and by businessman Zahoor Watali who was funding local militants,” he said.
The top court was hearing a bunch of petitions regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the Centre revoking the special status granted to it under Article 370 of the Constitution.
The court granted permission to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramullah and Jammu districts to enquire about the well being of his family members. In a separate plea, the top court issued notice to the Centreon the detention of former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. CJI Ranjan Gogoi said he will visit Srinagar himself if necessary after a petition put forth allegations of inaccessibility of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.