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SC allows JKNPP leader to assess ground situation in J&K

Supreme court

New Delhi : Supreme Court today allowed Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) leader Bhim Singh, who has sought imposition of Governor’s rule in the troubled state, to visit Srinagar and assess the “ground reality” there.

“We are not stopping you from talking to local people or Hurriyat. It is a free country and anyone can to talk to anyone but we will not give you any license or authorization for your political angle,” the bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur said, adding that he should tell the court about the ground situation in schools, colleges and hospitals.

The court said the senior lawyer cannot just say that Governor’s rule under section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is the only panacea for everything and should file a reply to the Centre’s affidavit on the ground situation in the state.

The bench also said if anyone tries to incite the people or create law and order problem, then it can put them behind bars.

When Singh said he wanted to speak to local people and groups like Hurriyat Conference, the bench said it was a free country and anyone could talk to anyone but warned him against making political statements.

The bench directed solicitor general Ranjit Kumar to arrange for the visit of the activist lawyer and allow him to meet local people, divisional commissioner and deputy commissioner, so that he can assess the situation by himself and submit a report.

The bench, also comprising A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, asked the Centre to facilitate his visit after the senior lawyer said he had been stopped 52 times from entering the state.

“No one will stop you. If anyone stops then you can come back here and tell us. Centre will arrange for your visit and you can meet the people there and you can meet divisional commissioner and deputy commissioner so that you can assess the situation,” the bench said.

Kumar said he will find out how the JKNPP leader was stopped from entering the state and assured that he will not be restricted.

Earlier, the apex court had said that the ongoing trouble in Kashmir should be “dealt with politically” as everything cannot be managed within judicial parameters.

The apex court had earlier asked the Solicitor General to help the JKNPP leader to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

In his plea, Singh, has sought various reliefs besides seeking imposition of Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir.

The bench today also asked Singh to file his response on the status report filed by the Centre on prevailing ground situation in the Valley.

It said the Jammu and Kashmir High Court was already seized of the matter and knew the ground reality there. “The High Court is already seized of the matter and knows the ground reality and it can pass appropriate orders,” it said.

Earlier the Centre, in its status report filed on August 5, had said the law and order situation in the Valley had improved considerably with incidents of violent protests having gone down from 201 on July 9 to 11 on August 3.

The Valley has been witnessing a spate of violent protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

The Solicitor General, referring to the report, had said that curfew was in force only in certain areas of three districts in the Valley.

He had said that in these 872 incidents, 42 civilians and two security personnel were killed, while 2656 civilians and 3783 security personnel were injured.

Incidents of violence had been sparked off after Wani and two other militants were killed by the security forces on July 8, leading to large-scale protests and law and order trouble in different parts of the Valley.

Bhim Singh’s petition had said that due to the use of pellet guns by the security forces, people were being blinded and there was a shortage of medicines and medical facilities available to the citizens.

His plea had said that Governor’s rule under section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir should be imposed and had sought a direction to the Governor to dissolve the Assembly, claiming it “has failed to discharge its duties and functions”.

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