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Article 35A in SC: Political leaders warn Centre against any changes

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Wahid Bhat | Srinagar

Senior Congress leader and former union minister Saifuddin Soz Monday said that Kashmir’s relation with the Centre will be severed if Article 370 is repelled. With the hearing of Article 35A in the Supreme Court likely to be this week, Soz said that if Article 370 is tempered, he will unite with former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and will protest at Kashmir’s Lal Chowk.

“It is not known that why this strong military force has been deployed in the valley of Kashmir. Locals of Kashmir get shocked seeing military forces around them. And if Article 370 is repelled by the court, Kashmir’s relation with union will also get severed. RSS is keen to scrap Articles 35A and 370 from Kashmir and so has approached the Supreme Court,” Soz said.

“RSS has already caused a lot of damage to the country. Who is at Supreme Court presently? RSS. Who has filed the petition on Article 35? RSS. This is not going to give any benefit in 2019? There will be a chaos in 2019. The government will change in 2019 (after the Lok Sabha elections). And now, the RSS has approached the court to get Article 370 scrapped from Kashmir. This will severe the relationship between the state and the union,” Soz said. He further added, “Today, main stream and Hurriyat are on the same page and issue can be resolved through dialogues. Did the government speak to anyone? Our and our children’ lives are now based on what the government at Centre plans to do about Kashmir.

PM Modi addressing the gathering in Varanasi. (Source: Twitter/@MEAIndia)

The Supreme Court is said to begin hearing on Article 35A and it has led to a lot of anxiety in the Valley.

Article 35A was added to the Constitution as a testimony of the special consideration the Indian government accorded to the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu and Kashmir. It gives special rights to the Jammu and Kashmir’s permanent residents and prohibits people from outside the state from buying or owning immovable property, settle permanently, or avail themselves of state-sponsored schemes.

It also forbids the J-K government from hiring people who are non-permanent residents.

For and against

Political parties from Kashmir such as the National Conference and PDP are opposed to the scrapping or dilution of Article 35A. Last year, National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah said that his party “won’t allow any changes in article 35A”. However, according to a writ petition filed by We the Citizens, four representatives from the Valley were part of the Constituent Assembly that was involved in drafting Jammu and Kashmir’s Constitution and the state had not been accorded a special status.

Further, the petition claims that Article 370 was meant to be a “temporary” provision at that point of time, not a means to enact permanent amendments such as Article 35A, which is against the “spirit of oneness of India”.

Removal of Article 35A is an emotive issue in Kashmir. Former CM Mehbooba Mufti says that if it is scrapped, no one will remain to carry the Tricolour in the Valley. Meanwhile, former CM Omar Abdullah has issued an equally dire warning, saying such a move would be the death knell for Kashmir’s pro-India politics.