In Depth

Amid war hysteria, Kashmiri unionists raise a war cry over Article 35-A

At a time when Arunachal Pradesh has erupted in rage over the purported fiddling of their ‘state subject laws’, the Arunachal Pradesh (Land Settlement and Records) Act, Kashmir’s local unionists have raised a pitch against the abrogation attempts of Article 35-A. Collectively, they’ve warned New Delhi of serious consequences, in case of any judicial onslaught.

As Kashmir grapples with war hysteria after the Pulwama bombing, another bogeyman is ready to scare the already confused lot. Supreme Court of India, in the week, might hear petitions which challenge the Constitutional validity of Article 35-A.

The Article accords special rights to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir while barring outsiders from owning land and property, and availing employment and scholarship in the state.

Kashmir’s resistance camp has been up in arms against the tinkering of the special status accusing the ruling dispensation of trying to change the demography of the Muslim majority state.

However, regarding the issue of the special status, the ones who ferociously defend JK’s Treaty of Accession with ‘secular’ India in the valley have also clutched their fists.

“Any tampering will render Treaty of Accession null and void,” warned Mehbooba Mufti, PDP Chief and BJP’s former ally.

In a series of tweets, she cautioned New Delhi that after taking such a ‘hare brained’ decision, Kashmiris shouldn’t be blamed for what will follow. She maintained the same tough tone during her hurriedly conveyed presser at her Fairview residence in Srinagar on Monday.

After Mehbooba, the person who became the ‘face of BJP in Kashmir’, Peoples Conference Chief Sajad Gani Lone, went on to say that the Article 35-A is an ‘Article of Trust’ between New Delhi and JK.

“It is a matter of promises made decades ago,” Lone said. “It is a part of a set of special provisions offered to the people of the state in order to be part of India. People ignorant of history pass it off as concessions to the State.”

When an RSS backed NGO ‘We the Citizens’ first filed a plea in the Supreme Court of India in 2014, challenging the Constitutional validity of Article 35-A, several interlocutory petitions were filed in support of the State Subject Law by individuals and civil society groups. Comrade MY Tarigami was one of those petitioners.

ALSO READ: From Resettlement Act to Article 35-A: The tale of two women campaigners

“After 1952 Delhi Agreement, Article 35-A was brought under Article 370. This is a Constitutional provision. You cannot say that Article 35-A can be repealed. Already, Article 370 has been diluted to a great extent and there have been 43 amendments to that. They [GoI] have already made Article 370 hollow. It is for the same reason that uncertainty has risen in J&K and there is natural alienation,” Tarigami said.

“Already the relation between India and the J&K people has weakened, and by eroding Article 35-A, there will be more trouble.”

At National Conference HQ, Nawai Subah, where who’s who in the grand political party of Kashmir had turned up to welcome former bureaucrat Farooq Shah into the party fold, Vice President Omar Abdullah, in a high decibel speech—bearing a stark resemblance with his 2008 high-octane “I’m Indian” speech in the Indian Parliament—said: “Stop scaring us everyday regarding Article 35-A.”

“I want to tell the Centre that see the situation in Arunachal Pradesh, where there is no militancy, no stone-pelting. A peaceful state like Arunachal Pradesh is also up in flames. The people there have hit the roads in order to save their permanent resident status,” Omar added.

“That I believe should act as an eye-opener for those who are inimical to Article 370, Article 35-A. Any misadventure in fiddling with the state’s special status will unarguably have serious and far-reaching consequences in Jammu and Kashmir. The situation will be worse than what it is in Arunachal Pradesh,” Abdullah warned.

While batting for early elections in the state, the former chief minister added that it was his duty to warn New Delhi about the consequences of any tampering with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“I am not threatening. It is my duty to warn you, the rest is your will. As a responsible citizen, it is my duty to tell Delhi that your thinking is not right,” the NC leader said.

He added that the Government of India and the Governor S P Malik-led administration in the state should leave the defence of Article 370 and Article 35-A to a new, popular government elected after the Assembly polls.

ALSO READ: As D-Day over 35-A approaches, floodgates might open in ‘indifferent’ Jammu, Ladakh

“Leave it to us. Whether the Centre or the Governor’s administration, their only responsibility now is to create a conducive atmosphere and conduct the (Assembly) election. After the polls, whatever the decision of the people of the state, it should be left to them to tackle (Article) 35-A. We know the situation here better, so please do not get into this. Conduct the polls and the new government will work towards saving Article 35-A itself,” Abdullah said.

Earlier, the Awami National Conference Vice President, Muzaffar Shah, said that with the tampering of Article 35-A, India’s relation with the state of Jammu and Kashmir will end there and then only. “If that happens,” Shah warned, “there will be a mass agitation.”

Seeking explanation from the “custodian of JK’s Constitution”, Governor Satya Pal Malik, Shah continued: “Can you tell us about the preparedness you’ve made on behalf of the state of Jammu and Kashmir regarding Article 35-A which is set for the hearing anytime later this month?”

When last heard, Raj Bhavan said that it has sought deferment of the judicial issue.

But like other unionists, State Congress Chief GA Mir has warned that any tinkering with the provision will prove ‘disastrous’.

ALSO READ: Meet comrade Sampat Prakash, Kashmir’s vintage campaigner of Article 35-A

“BJP is miserably trying to mislead people to gain mileage under the garb of tinkering with special status of the state,” Mir said.

“The Special status granted to the J&K State is a settled issue, any misadventure with regard to Art 35-A, as reported, would further deepen the alienation among the people and the fire of which will engulf the entire J&K state,” he added.

India’s first PM Jawahar Lal Nehru and United Nations have promised people of Jammu Kashmir for right to self determination which is yet to fulfilled, said Er Rashid, former lawmaker from Langate.

“But now, if central government will try to tinker with the Article 35-A, there will be serious consequences” Rashid warned.

 

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