Home Indian Muslim Article 35A case in SC: Kashmir gears up for ‘mass agitation’

Article 35A case in SC: Kashmir gears up for ‘mass agitation’

Auqib Javeed, TwoCircles.net

Srinagar: Cutting across political ideologies, almost all political parties, separatists, business communities, and other socio-religious organisations in Kashmir united and threatened to launch a “mass agitation” against any attempt to “tinker” with Article 35A.

The Supreme Court of India is going to hear a petition challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, which gives special rights and privileges to residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

 Former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah; separatists Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have warned of unrest in Kashmir if any tampering was done with the Constitutional provision, while Kashmir-based trade organisations have also supported the call for agitation.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said in a rally in Srinagar recently that she has already conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the safeguarding of the special constitutional position of Jammu and Kashmir forms part of the ‘agenda of alliance’.

“Any tinkering with it would turn the state into a veritable inferno,” Mufti said. She called for a united front of all political parties in the state to protect the law. National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, too, warned that his party won’t allow the Centre to fiddle with the political status and “honour” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

 Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) met at Geelani’s residence on Sunday and deliberated on the “serious challenge” posed to Article 35A in the Supreme Court.

“The attempt to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir and insidiously destroy its disputed nature has always been on the agenda of BJP/RSS and the challenge to 35A in the Indian Supreme Court is a serious part of that plan,” JRL said in a statement after the meet.

The leaders said that the plan meant “Kashmiris will become a minority in their own land” and “will be pushed to the margins”.

The separatist leaders have called for strikes on August 5 and 6 in the state and warned of launching a “mass agitation of hitting and occupying streets”.

On Monday the representatives of more than 27 organizations held a press conference where they warned of an agitation, in case Article 35A is removed or altered. They have also supported the strike call given by the Joint Resistance Leadership group on August 5, 6.

The Centre’s decision not to defend the rule, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court, has wiped out the political lines and brought together all Kashmiris. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case on August 6.

Congress State General Secretary and MLA Bandipora Usman Majid in a statement said if Article 35A is scrapped, it will lead to civil war in Kashmir.

Majid said “If BJP & RSS think that this war will remain restricted to Kashmir, they are living in a fool’s paradise. It will engulf the whole of India.” According to reports, the Union government has declined to defend Jammu and Kashmir State in the apex court, putting the law seriously under threat.

Political experts believe that this is the best time for the centre to fiddle with the article as the state is currently under Governor’s rule. Some fear that removal of Article 35 might create another mass uprising like those of 2008, 2010 and 2016.

“We wish to inform the general public that if the said Article is removed or tinkered with, then the rights of original citizens of Jammu and Kashmir on their immovable property and other such rights would be taken away and all Indians would be accorded a right to establish their settlements in length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir pushing away the original citizens. The purpose behind this PIL is devious to change the demographic character of Jammu Kashmir and alter the nature of the dispute that is internationally recognised.” said a member of the Kashmiri business community.

“The worry among the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir to resist against the attempted onslaught is very much justified.  Let us make it amply clear that the hereditary state subject law of Jammu and Kashmir shall be protected at any cost even on the lives of the citizens and no tampering with this law would ever be tolerated. The powers that be are hereby put on notice to take all necessary steps to get the nefarious PIL filed by an RSS backed NGO dismissed at the earliest in order to save themselves from its political ramifications and consequences. This matter is related to the life and death of the people of Jammu Kashmir and we all are ready to spill our blood to safeguard this law,” said Dr Mubeen Shah, former president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce.

 Article 35A, promulgated by the President in 1954, gives powers to the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the permanent residents of the state and also their privileges. However, its constitutional validity has been challenged in the apex court where the case will come up for next hearing on August 6.

Business representatives appealed the Supreme Court to dismiss the petitions challenging the validity of the provision.

Speaking with Two Circle.net, trade leader Muhammad Yasin Khan said that it will have serious ramifications if Article 35A is tinkered with. He said people of Chenab Valley and Pir Panchal are supporting them and they are on the same page.

“There is apprehension that it (Article 35A) might be diluted and at the same time, there can be a strong reaction from the people. Kashmir is already alienated and the society is mobilised, it will get further alienated,” said Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a well-known Kashmiri political analyst.

“Any fiddling with Article 35(A) will have serious repercussions; it will directly affect people of this place, entire demography will be changed so people have to think in those terms,” said Advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom, President Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association.

Another young political commentator from South Kashmir Hafiz Abdul Bari believes that fiddling with Article 35(A) means Jammu and Kashmir is Palestine in becoming.

“It clearly means we will have lost everything in due course of time; our land, jobs resources, culture and even religion,” he says, adding, “The current political establishment in India may assume that Abrogation of Article 35 A may lead to national integration, but I believe it will certainly add to the already-present alienation among the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”