If Centre doesn’t end ambiguity on Article 35A, we’ll boycott polls’.
Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said that he wants to convey it explicitly to all in the country that if Article 35A and Article 370 are flawed provisions of the Constitution then the State’s accession with the Indian union is also wrong. He said, “If Article 35A and Article 370 are wrong then the accession is also wrong.”
Mr Abdullah who is the president of J&K’s oldest political party National Conference (NC) also said that if the Centre does not end ambiguity in its stand on Article35A then it (NC) will boycott also the State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
The NC had earlier this week in a significant development, announced that it will not contest the upcoming rural and urban bodies elections in the State unless and until the Centre clears its position vis-a-vis Article 35A. It also said that the situation is not conducive in the State for holding these elections.
While speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a rally held beside the mausoleum of his father and legendary Kashmiri leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah to commemorate his 36th death anniversary, on Saturday Mr. Abdullah said that the NC will not run away from elections but it was the unanimous view of the party men that the Centre should first make its stand on Article 35A known publicly. “We will not run away from elections but want justice should be done with us first,” he said.
Elaborating, he said that it would be impossible for his party to go to the people to seek their votes when the government is not clear on its stand vis-a-vis Article 35A. “The Prime Minister like (Adolf) Hitler announced from the ramparts of Lal Qilla (Red Fort) that local bodies elections will be held in J&K later this year, he said. He asked, “On one hand, they talk about holding elections and, on the other, want to scrap Article 35A. What will we tell the people?”
Mr Abdullah added, “Agar tumhara woh rasta hai to harama rasta alag hai (If this is the way you have chosen for you then we are poles apart. We won’t fight elections, not only this election but also Parliament and Assembly elections. You may bring in whichever people you want to.”
He asked the government to invite the leaders and representatives of all mainstream political parties for a threadbare discussion on the issues related to Articles 35A and 370 for arriving at consensus. “Talk to us…invite all leaders and tell them what do you want to do,” he said.
Article 35A guarantees special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and thereby prohibiting non-permanent residents from permanent settlement and from acquiring immovable properties, government jobs and scholarships in the State. The provision also empowers the State Legislature to define such “permanent residents” and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.
However, a petition seeking removal of Article 35A is currently pending before a three-judge bench of the SC. An NGO, ‘We the Citizens, believed to be an RSS think-tank, challenged 35A in the SC in 2014 on grounds that it was not added to the Constitution through amendment under Article 368 and that it was never presented before Parliament, and came into effect immediately.
The Supreme Court had on August 31 deferred the hearing on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A in lieu of upcoming local body elections in the state.