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Give a little time for the situation to ease, Chief Justice of India tells petitioner

No respite: Kashmiris offer Friday prayers amid the continuing restrictions in Srinagar.AP

The Supreme Court on Friday called for patience over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir while hearing a petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times, challenging the lockdown and media restrictions imposed by the Centre across the Valley.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said he had read in the morning’s newspapers that landlines would be restored in the Valley by evening. “We would like to give it a little time,” the CJI said, addressing Ms. Bhasin’s counsel.

Justice S.A. Bobde cited a telephonic conversation he had had with the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s Chief Justice as proof that landlines were already working. “There is no problem with the landlines,” Justice Bobde told senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, appearing for Ms. Bhasin. Ms. Grover said only the landlines of a few important persons may be working. The reality was different for ordinary people, she submitted.

Finally, the Bench chose to keep Ms. Bhasin’s petition pending. The CJI said a date would be fixed on the administrative side for the next hearing. This is the second Bench of the Supreme Court that has decided to ‘wait and watch’ while the government handles the unfolding events in J&K.

The lockdown in the Valley was imposed on August 4, preceding the issuance of a Presidential Order the next day, which read down Article 370 and scrapped the special rights and privileges accorded to the people of J&K since 1954.

‘Pakistan, China trying to impose their views on the world’

Syed Akbaruddin

Reiterating that issues around Article 370, i.e., special status to Jammu & Kashmir, were an internal matter, India played down the significance of Friday’s UN Security Council’s “closed consultation” meeting on Kashmir.

Indian Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin accused Pakistan and China of attempting to impart greater significance to the meeting than was warranted.

“After the end of the Security Council’s closed consultations, we noted that two states who made national statements tried to pass them off as the will of the international community,” Mr. Akbaruddin said, as he took to the podium after the meeting.

“The Security Council is a very deliberative… institution. It works in a very considered manner. Its outcomes are provided to all of us through the [UNSC] President. So if national statements try to masquerade as the will of the international community, I thought I will come across to you too and explain our national position,” he said, adding that Article 370 is an entirely internal matter of India with no external ramifications.

Neither India nor Pakistan were part of the UNSC closed consultations, which are informal meetings that do not have a formal outcome. Sometimes “press elements” can be agreed by consensus of the UNSC members, but no such statement emerged from Friday’s meeting.

Mr. Akbaruddin told reporters that the abrogation of Article 370 was done to enhance good governance and socio-economic development in Jammu and Kashmir and that the UNSC consultations had taken note of this.

Mr. Akbaruddin, speaking after his Chinese and Pakistani counterparts and in sharp contrast to them, took questions from reporters, including from Pakistan.

Odisha police seize body of woman

Police personnel shifting the body of Parbati Soren for post-mortem in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district. Her husband Kandra Soren is third from left. Special Arrangement

Local police in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district on Friday recovered a woman’s body which could not be cremated for three days because community members refused to participate in the last rites.

Villagers belonging to the Santhal tribe at Kuchei village under the Kuliana police station limits allegedly insisted that the husband, Kandra Soren, pay an old ‘society penalty’ before allowing anyone to assist him in the cremation. The penalty that included a goat, three chickens, 15 kg of rice and two pots of country liquor was imposed on the family of Kandra Soren because his father had married outside the clan decades ago.

Mr. Soren had himself married Parbati allegedly defying the tribe’s tradition under which the groom’s family must gift a cow or bullock to the bride’s family at the time of marriage. His was a love marriage and he had not given any gift.

Mr. Soren, a daily wager, had expressed his inability to pay the penalty to the community and to his in-laws. As a result, he received help from neither of them.

Parbati Soren had died of unspecified illness on August 14. “Despite repeatedly assuring them that I will pay the fine later, the community members refused to budge,” said Mr. Soren.

“We have sent the body for post-mortem,” said Kamalakanta Das, Inspector-in-Charge of Kuliana police station. “We are trying to find out if he is facing a social boycott.”

Counsel for Ayodhya deity refers to ASI excavation report

The Supreme Court asked the Hindu parties on Friday to present proof of their claim that the Babri Masjid was built on the remains of an ancient temple or Hindu religious structure. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was hearing submissions on the seventh day.

“Over the past two millennia we have seen civilisations settle and resettle on river banks. They have built upon pre-existing structures. But prove that the alleged ruins or demolished building [on which Babri Masjid was built] was religious in nature,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on the Bench, asked senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan, appearing for the Ayodhya deity, Ram Lalla Virajman.

Justice S.A. Bobde asked Mr. Vaidyanathan to corroborate his arguments that the structure was a temple, dedicated to Lord Ram.

Mr. Vaidyanathan referred to the Archaeological Survey of India excavation report that the structure found underground dated back to the second century BC.

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