J&K PCC chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir said that any tinkering with the special status of the state would further deepen the alienation of the people.
Srinagar: Amid reports that the Centre may, after ending its indifference towards the issue, seek the repeal of Article 35A in the Supreme Court, Jammu and Kashmir’s mainstream leaders have warned the government against any attempt to tinker with the Constitutional provision.
Former chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said that any “misadventure” in fiddling with Article 35A or Article 370 will have serious and far-reaching consequences in the state. He said, “Any misadventure in fiddling with its special status will unarguably have serious and far-reaching consequences in J&K.”
Referring to the large-scale violence in Arunachal Pradesh, he said, “A peaceful state like Arunachal Pradesh is also in flames. People there have hit the roads protesting against any changes in their permanent resident status. That, I believe, should act as an eye-opener for those who are inimical to Article 370 and Article 35A”.
He added that the people irrespective of region and religion have come out in open support of these two Constitutional provisions and that “our fight” for protection of the State’s special status is being acknowledged and supported by those who are in alliance with the BJP, as well.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said that before taking a decision on Article 35A, the government at the Centre should consider that J&K was a Muslim-majority state but it chose secular India over Pakistan during the Partition and that Article 370 is the constitutional connection between J&K and the Indian Union. “The Instrument of Accession is contingent on Article 370 which is inextricably linked to Article 35A. Any tampering will render the Treaty of Accession null and void,” the former chief minister said.
Peoples Conference chairman and former minister Sajad Gani Lone said that any attempts to tamper with Article 35A would result in a massive backlash for mainstream thought and also disenchantment and disillusionment in the state. “Any tinkering with the special status of J&K is not only intolerable and unacceptable but would also amount to the erosion of the mainstream thought and space in J&K,” he said adding “It is pertinent to understand that the state’s special status is an article of faith between the people of the state and the rest of the country and also a constitutional bridge that is paramount in its importance”.
He further said, “Any efforts to dilute or further erode the state’s special status would result in disenchantment and disillusionment in the state and also render the mainstream space irrelevant and undermine its power of representation as far as the aspirations of people are concerned”.
J&K PCC chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir said that any tinkering with the special status of the state would further deepen the alienation of the people. “The BJP should not even think about touching Article 35A. Any misadventure would further deepen the alienation among the people and its fire will engulf the entire state,” he said adding the special status granted to the state is a “settled issue”.
The CPIM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said that Article 35A confers the power to the J&K legislature to define who are the state’s permanent residents and what are their rights. “Any attempt to tamper with this provision will fundamentally damage the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution,” he said and while echoing his party’s stand on the issues urged the government at the Centre to make a public commitment that the Article 35A will be retained intact in the Constitution.
Meanwhile, Mandi town of the frontier district of Poonch in the State’s Jammu division on Monday observed complete shutdown in support of Article 35A. The call for the strike had been issued by various local religious organisations and the same was endorsed by some political and trade and transport bodies.
Following Monday’s strike and growing tensions in Poonch, the District Magistrate Rahul Yadav has imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in the sensitive border district for an indefinite period. Justifying the move, he said, “In view of the prevailing law-and-order situation in the district, some people may resort to agitation and there is apprehension that such people or groups can cause obstructions and injure persons and endanger human life and property, disturb tranquillity and cause riots”. He also said, “People have been prohibited from initiating violent protests, making speeches, raising slogans, carrying sticks and lethal weapons, gathering and assembly of five or more people in the district.”
Later while addressing a press conference, Ms Mufti said that if Article 35A is nullified then nobody would be available to lift the national flag in Kashmir. She said, “If Article 35A is nullified, I fear there would be nobody to lift the national flag in Kashmir. Please don't play with fire. There has been a lot of disinformation about this article in the rest of the country”.