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Restore normalcy in J&K: SC to Centre

New Delhi: The Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration were on Monday asked by the Supreme Court to restore normalcy in the valley as early as possible.

As the apex court asked the authorities to keep in mind national interest while taking the necessary steps on a “selective basis”, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said he himself will visit Srinagar, if required, after terming as “very very serious” the allegation that people are finding it very difficult to approach the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Normal life in Kashmir Valley remained affected on Monday for the 43rd consecutive day.

With the top court taking up multiple pleas on Jammu and Kashmir, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state, told the bench headed by Justice Gogoi that not a single bullet has been fired by security forces after August 5 when Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir was revoked and the state bifurcated into two separate Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

In related developments, state Governor Satya Pal Malik met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi and is believed to have briefed him about the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Union Home Minister Amit Shah also reviewed the situation amid reports that around 230 terrorists were waiting at terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to enter the country.

The Jammu and Kashmir government as well as the Centre should make “every endeavour to restore the normalcy as early as possible”, a bench of the apex court said, adding the “restoration will be on a selective basis keeping in mind the national interest”.

The CJI-headed bench that comprised justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer was also told by Attorney General K K Venugopal about the steps taken by authorities to restore normalcy. It asked Venugopal to file an affidavit indicating the steps taken so far.

When the top court was told about the alleged “shutdown” of mobile and Internet services in the valley, the bench said these issues could be dealt with by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

“All forms of communication, subject to overriding consideration of national security, shall be normalised, if required on a selective basis, particularly for healthcare facilities,” said the bench, which also comprised justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer.

The top court asked the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir to file their affidavits indicating their responses on the plea and applications which raises the issue of shutdown of mobile and Internet services in the valley and lack of healthcare facilities there.

Venugopal said that since 1990 till date, 41,866 persons have lost their lives in 71,038 incidents of terrorist violence in the state which includes 14,038 civilians, 5,292 personnel of security forces and 22,536 terrorists. Referring to the around three months shutdown of Internet services in the valley in 2016 due to violent protest after encounter of terrorist Burhan Wani, Venugopal said when Wani was eliminated, the “whole Kashmir went into boil” and 46 persons had lost their lives at that time.

Countering the claims of petitioners about lack of medical facilities, he said that 10.52 lakh patients attended the outpatient department (OPD) in Kashmir hospitals till September 15. He said that 67,196 patients have visited indoor patient department in various government-run healthcare institutions and doctors have successfully performed 10,699 major surgeries including caesarean sections and 53,297 minor surgeries in various hospitals in the valley.

Mehta told the bench that restrictions have been removed in 93 out of 105 police stations of the Kashmir division, which comes at 88.57 per cent while in Jammu and Ladakh division, 100 per cent restrictions have been removed.

Mehta said there was sufficient stock of essential drugs and other medical requirements across the hospitals in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh and three months stock of essential commodities like food grains, LPG cylinders, petrol, diesel have been ensured there. He said 8,98,050 LPG cylinders have been home delivered to consumers in the last one month across the valley while 6.46 lakh quintals of ration were distributed there. “The picture presented before the court is wrong,” he said.

After the bench said that both the Centre and state should ensure restoration of normalcy in Kashmir, Mehta said, “This direction can be misused elsewhere, not inside the country but outside.”

To this, the bench observed, “We are not issuing any direction. We have said that restoration will be on a selective basis keeping in mind the national interest.”

If required, I will visit J&K: CJI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought a report from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice on the access to the court by the people as Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also made it clear that he will personally visit J&K if required.

“If required, I will go and personally check, I will speak to the Chief Justice today,” said Gogoi, while replying to senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who claimed that there are extreme difficulties in accessing the High Court under the alleged lockdown situation in the erstwhile state.  IANS

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