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Kashmiris more agitated over fate of Article 35A than talk of India-Pakistan war

A senior Kashmiri official of the Jammu & Kashmir govt said any move to tinker with Article 35A will create a law and order situation that 'will be difficult to control'.

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Srinagar: Aijaz ul-Qayoom, who works in a state-run bank in Kashmir, doesn’t really care about all the talk of a possible India-Pakistan war triggered by the 14 February Pulwama attack and the ensuing bilateral face-off.

But mention the clutch of petitions that have challenged Article 35A in the Supreme Court, and his blood boils.

“We have been living in a war-like situation since the last 30 years… It has become a part of our life now. It does not bother us,” Aijaz told ThePrint.

“But despite all the problems, the militancy, etc, we got strength from Article 35A as we knew our rights were protected.”

Article 35A is a constitutional provision that allows the J&K assembly to define “permanent residents” of the state, who are then eligible to certain rights and privileges, including employment in the J&K government, acquisition of immovable land or property, scholarships and other such aid and welfare from the government.

Incorporated into the Constitution by a presidential order in 1954, the provision bars non-residents from acquiring property in Jammu & Kashmir, and locals consider it sacred to the agreement under which the state acceded to India in 1947. It also nullifies the inheritance rights of local women who marry outside the state, and the entire protest against Article 35A is centred on these two factors. The petitions challenging the provision are expected to be heard by the Supreme Court soon.

“[Under Article 35A] We [Kashmiris] will be preferred in jobs,” said Aijaz. “Our land will be ours. But tomorrow, if you decide to scrap it and allow outsiders to come here and take away our jobs, you think we will remain silent?”

The sentiment seems to resonate with Kashmiris across the spectrum — be it politicians of different stripes, scholars, government officials, businessmen or students.

‘A direct attack’

Talking to ThePrint, a senior Kashmiri official of the Jammu & Kashmir government said any move to tinker with Article 35A will create a law and order situation that “will be difficult to control”.

“We are currently only dealing with militancy,” he added. “But any fiddling with Article 35A will bring everybody out on the road, including those in the mainstream, as it directly attacks the right of every individual Kashmiri.”

How will the government control the situation then?” he said.

Sajad Gani Lone of the People’s Conference, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said Article 35A was a greater preoccupation for Kashmiris than a possible war. “The government should step in to allay the apprehensions that Kashmiris have, instead of further igniting the already volatile situation,” he added.

Lone said that, since 1989, when militancy was at its peak in Kashmir, the government had dealt with the Valley through military measures. This, he said, had resulted in “more dead bodies, more widows, more orphans”.

“Now, military measures would have to make way for structural measures, which is to reverse the constitutional erosions that have taken place,” he added.

“If you think of tinkering with 35A instead, it will result in further erosion and alienation. This will again feed into violence, which will be countered by more military measures.”

Also read: Kashmir on edge again as hearing on Article 35A in Supreme Court draws closer

Bipartisan appeal

The state of J&K has been without an elected government since June last year, when the BJP pulled out of its alliance with the state-based Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Earlier this month, the state told the Supreme Court that only an elected government could present the state’s view on the petitions challenging Article 35A, and sought a deferment till after another administration is sworn in.

However, the assurance has done little to calm apprehensions. Amid reports last week that the Supreme Court would take up the anti-Article 35A petitions sometime this week, there was widespread panic and tension in the Valley.

Locals reportedly began stocking up fuel and food in the apprehension of chaos, while separatists announced a shutdown.

The two major players of local politics, the PDP and the National Conference (NC), have also spoken in one voice to defend Article 35A as well as Article 370, which grants special status to J&K and has also been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Speaking to ThePrint earlier this week, former chief minister Omar Abdullah of the NC said any “tinkering with Article 370 and 35A will be disastrous for the state”.

PDP chief and former CM Mehbooba Mufti said Monday that the “Centre should not play with fire”. Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, she added, “Don’t fiddle with Article 35A, else you will see what you have not seen since 1947. If it is attacked, then I don’t know which flag people of J&K will be forced to pick up instead of the Tricolour.”

‘A matter of Kashmiri identity & security’

According to Noor Ahmad Baba, a professor in the department of politics and governance at the Central University of Kashmir, said “this whole narrative that is being built looks part of a well-planned strategy to put people in the state on the defensive”.

“People in Kashmir are more sensitive to issues that involve Kashmiri identity and security,” he added. “Any talk of scrapping Article 35A will cut across the political spectrum and bring people out on the streets. It will be difficult to handle the situation then.”

Also read: Tinkering with Article 370 or 35A will be disastrous for Jammu and Kashmir: Omar Abdullah

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  1. Temp #Article370 was aplicable to only to Maharaja rule in Jammu and Kashmir as per the EXPLANATION given in the Constitution. It got revoked or became void or ineffective with the abolition of Maharaja rule in 1952.
    With this the power conferred on the President by the Article 370 also got dissolved in 1952.

    The presidential order dated 14.05.1954 by disempowered president quoting #Article35A to be added to the Constitution was beyond his piwers and ultra vires the constitution and unlawful. Publication of Art35A of the said unlawful order, as part of constitution without amendment through Art378, by the then Prime minister Nehru was an act of fraud on the nation. SC should take this Suo moto.

    Now comes alternative argument.

    Over several yrs giving provisions of #Article370,(auto revoked in 1952) and that of #Article3 5A quoted by President in his ultra vires order in derogation of the Constitution can not revive or restore the auto repealed Article 370 nor can it give the provisions of the said article 35A from illegal order without any constitutional amendment the force of statute or law.

    If few successive Governments of a state give Rs 5lakh or 10 or 50 lakh compensation to the family of a deceased who list his life in a riot or accident or train accident etc that decision even if repeated 20 times over several years can not acquire the force of statute or become insurance law unless the resolution is passed by the house in that regard.

    So just a notification or proclamation that the said Articles got revoked long back in 1952 and didnt acquire the force of law so the provisions unlawfully being given under those names are to be withdrawn by the government with immediate effect.
    That’s it.

  2. Anger of 125 crore Indians have reached to near explosion level of 125 crore nuclear bombs. We feel to wipe out all these only 5 million kashmiris who are taking 125 crore Indians for granted. We want article 35A to be scrapped and no more compromise on it. Enough is enough.Kashiris are spoiled child of India and it must need harsh treatment. So scrap 35A,scrap 35A and scrap 35A and that too with immediate effect.

  3. The idea of identity and security is precise the reason Article 35A must be revoked. We are part of the same family and our Kashmiris brothers and sisters will flourish (economically and otherwise) even more if this discriminatory art. is removed. All local politicians (Muftis, Abdullahs, Hurriyats etc.) are merely looking after their own ends by maintaining status quo.

  4. How come a kashmir have more rights in this country than any other Indian. If you can’t digest the fact that no one should have special privelege or advantage then they are having that special treatment since so many years. So many kashmiris migrate to different parts of the country for better job opportunity. And none from India can come there. They get to decide who the citizen of J&K will be. What is the participation of Kashmir in Indias growth and GDP? Its our tax payers money that’s going for their development. Treat them at par with all other Indians.

  5. People of J&K don’t want people from other parts of India to come into J&K but they can go to any part of India. What sort of an absurd logic is this? Immediately repeal 35A no matter what. Past mistakes will have to be rectified.

  6. Article 35A has to go as it does gender discrimination giving more rights to Kashmiri men than women. This is not acceptable in a civilised society.

  7. 125 crore Indians are more agitated than a handful of Kashmiris for continuance of Article 35A…… In the face of involvement of even children in stone pelting on defence personal, who saved Kashmiris from worst flood, do you think Kashmiris have more right to decide their own fate…… Article 35A and 370 must be revoked right now, otherwise Kashmiris may not be given central govt jobs also….

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