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Kashmir lawyers association calls off yearly elections

The lawyers association in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday cancelled its yearly election days after local authorities barred it from holding polls until clarifying whether it saw Kashmir as a "disputed" or integral part of India.

Based in the regional capital Srinagar, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association general meeting resolved to deal with these "impediments," foreign an ad hoc committee until elections could be conducted.

On Nov. 9, Srinagar District Magistrate Shahid Choudhary issued three notices to the president of the association, asking the body to explain its constitution, which describes Kashmir as a disputed area.

The magistrate barred the lawyers body from holding any elections until it clarified its position and asked them to submit the relevant documents, including the article of the association and registration papers.

While the elections has been conducted for around two decades, this was the first time it was asked to explain its stance on Kashmir.

"It's ironic to see this happening with an important institution like the judiciary," lawyer Mushtaq Dar told Anadolu Agency.

"Keeping people concerned with issues under the paw of administrative control will never serve any goodwill," he added.

- Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965, and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir. Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.


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