'No civilian killed after abrogation of Article 370'

'No civilian killed after abrogation of Article 370'

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The Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday told the Supreme Court that due to preventive measures taken by government, not a single bullet was fired and a civilian killed in the Valley after the August 5 decisions to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution from the erstwhile state and divide it into two Union Territories.

Maintaining that the restrictions imposed over there were being gradually removed, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the citizens were in fact conferred more rights after August 5. Grass-root democracy was introduced with Panchayat Raj institutions and local self-government. SC/STs, who were not provided any reservations, would have seats in the legislature. Safai Karmcharis would also be provided citizenship.

As many as 106 people-friendly central laws including the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, the Juvenile Justice Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Right to Education Act would now be applied for the first time. Women marrying outside the state will have a full property and other legal rights, he said.

Attorney General K K Venugopal contended before a bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy, and B R Gavai that the restrictions on communications and the internet have to be viewed in terms of past records.

“It would be foolish not to take preventive measures where the land has a history of 22,000 terrorists being killed and many separatists operating over there. A few years ago when a terrorist was killed, the internet was suspended for over three months, not a single case was filed but now 20 cases have been filed,” he said.

Both the law officers were responding to a batch of petitions filed by Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin, and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, challenging the validity of curbs on communications and travel.

Mehta said, in fact, there was no continuous or en masse curtailment of rights. “The rights of individuals have to be moulded so that the security and sovereignty of the country is protected. Not a single death due to police firing. It is not something that can't be trivialised. There has been a remarkable decrease in incidents of stone-pelting,” he said.

The government said the petitions challenging the restrictions have outlived its utility with the removal of most of the curbs. Mehta said petitioner Bhasin chose by her own volition not to publish her newspaper from Srinagar to advance a narrative that there were curbs and everything was blocked, while all other newspapers were published from there.