SRINAGAR (India) • A prominent party from India-administered Kashmir has appealed to the Supreme Court against the New Delhi government's move to scrap the state's special status and split it into two territories, legal news portal Live Law reported yesterday.
The petition by National Conference contends that the special status was given to the state under the Constitution and the presidential order to terminate it was constitutionally invalid, since the consent of the state assembly was not taken.
This is the first serious challenge in the Supreme Court against the government move since the National Conference is one of the two main regional parties and is considered an important stakeholder.
It remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will admit the petition for consideration.
India's government earlier clarified that since the state assembly was suspended and the state was under the president's rule, the powers of the state assembly had devolved upon the Parliament, which passed legislation to split the state.
The government also contended that it used a provision under the same constitutional article that empowered the president to declare the special status inoperative at any time.
Meanwhile, long queues formed in Kashmir's main city of Srinagar yesterday outside cash machines and food stores as the Indian authorities eased a crippling curfew to let the Himalayan region prepare for a major Muslim festival, residents said. The Eid al-Adha festival tomorrow looms as the next big test for the week-old Indian lockdown in the Muslim-majority region, where the government has ended decades-old rights to property and jobs for local Kashmiris.
Internet and phone lines have been cut and curfew restrictions have been imposed to prevent unrest over the constitutional move, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi said was needed to bring peace and prosperity to the troubled region.
More cars and pedestrians were on the streets yesterday.
"We can do more but it is still tough - everyone is closely watched," said one resident. "Our lives are still dominated by razor wire and checkpoints."
Media reports said the authorities would decide only today whether restrictions would be eased for what is one of the most important Muslim feast days of the year.
DPA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE