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Monday Sep 16 2019
Web Desk

Indian top judge vows to visit occupied Kashmir and assess 'normalcy' claims

Web Desk

The Indian Supreme Court on Monday directed the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to restore normalcy in occupied Kashmir and restore the internet and other communications facilities in the area, according to a report in Indian daily India Today. 

The court gave the orders after hearing multiple pleas against the August 5 decision of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revoke the constitutional autonomy of Indian-occupied Kashmir.

During the hearing, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi expressed concern over reports from occupied Kashmir that people were finding it extremely difficult to approach courts in the valley.

Gogoi said that it was very very serious if people were unable to approach the high court. "I will myself visit Srinagar," he said during the hearing in order to ease fears about the matter. 

However, the court stopped short of passing direct orders in the pleas regarding the curfew and communicators blackout in occupied Kashmir, reported the Indian publication. 

"We are not passing any orders. We have said all facilities should be restored..we are not carving out exceptions for any category." Ranjan Gogoi was quoted as saying by India Today

Earlier, the Supreme Court of India had decided to take up multiple pleas against the August 5 decision of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revoke the constitutional autonomy of Indian-occupied Kashmir. 

The petitions included pleas against the validity of scrapping Article 370 and 35(A) of the Indian Constitution without proper discourse in the parliament. 

In addition, there were petitions regarding the media and communications blackout in the occupied valley which have put the area under siege, and disrupted business and health facilities. 

On August 5, Indian PM Modi had passed a bill which split occupied Kashmir into two Indian Union territories. A military curfew was imposed in the occupied valley after the decision and thousands imprisoned. 

India Today reports that that a top court bench comprising of Indian Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, as well as Justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer presided over the proceedings in the hearings into the case.

The petitioners included former Indian-occupied Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had been stopped by the Indian government from traveling to occupied Kashmir to visit his relatives. 

Other high ranking politicians, including two former chief ministers and the mayor of capital Srinagar had also been placed under house arrest by Indian security forces in August to quash dissent against the move. 

Besides politicians, there are also journalists who have sought the help of the Indian court against the draconian measures of the Modi government. The editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin, is also a petitioner. 

Bhasin told India Today that journalists in the occupied valley are not allowed to move freely.  "It is difficult for journalists to travel beyond Srinagar, making it difficult to report," the editor further alleged.