India’s top court to examine change in Kashmir’s status

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s top court yesterday took up legal challenges to the government’s decision to revoke Indian-controlled Kashmir’s special status and asked the government to explain its stance to the court.

The Supreme Court ordered the federal government to file its replies to 14 petitions and inform the court about the media restrictions imposed in Kashmir.

It said five judges will start a regular hearing on the matter in October.

India’s government imposed a security lockdown and communications blackout in Kashmir to avoid a violent reaction to the August 5 decision to downgrade the region’s autonomy.

The restrictions have been eased slowly, with some businesses reopening, some landline phone service restored and some grade schools holding classes again, though student and teacher attendance has been sparse.

At the court’s preliminary hearing yesterday, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogi and two other judges rejected the government’s opposition to a notice — a written response from the government setting out its stand on the issue — as it may be cited by Pakistan at the United Nations (UN).

Attorney-General K K Venugopal said he and another law officer were present in court and there was no need for the notice.

“We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted the judges as saying.

Kashmiri men walk past closed shops in central Srinagar. PHOTO: AP