Article 35-A hearing in Supreme Court: The apex court is set to hear a raft of petitions seeking scrapping of Article 35-A which grants special constitutions status to Jammu and Kashmir even as a strike has been called in the Valley. Separatists have given the bandh call in Srinagar to North Kashmir’s Baramulla, Sopore, Handwara, Kupwara, Pattan and Bandipore towns, and places in South and Central Kashmir. According to reports, all business establishments are likely to be closed.
Jamiat Ulami Asna Asharia, a top religious body of Kargil, has extended its support for the bandh. Separatists have also warned of a “mass agitation” if the special provision is scrapped. “As Hurriyat leadership and activists stand caged in homes while our offices raided, complete protest strike being observed throughout against the mischief to change the demography of the state and its disputed status through ‘legal challenge’ to Art 35A,” Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is under house arrest, tweeted.
Outspoken IAS officer Shah Faesal today said repealing of Article 35A of the Constitution would end Jammu and Kashmir’s relationship with the rest of the country. “I would compare Article 35A to a marriage-deed/nikahnama. You repeal it and the relationship is over. Nothing will remain to be discussed afterwards,” Faesal, a 2010-batch IAS exam topper, tweeted.
The Article 35A accords special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and denies property rights to a native woman who marries a person from outside the state. According to the Jammu-Kashmir constitution, a Permanent Resident is defined as a person who was a state subject on May 14, 1954, or who has been residing in the state for a period of 10 years, and has “lawfully acquired immovable property in the state”. This was added to the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order
The main petition demanding scrapping of the Article 35A was filed before the apex court in 2014 by Delhi-based NGO ‘We the Citizens’. ‘We the Citizens’, an RSS-linked NGO, has said it would seek hearing of its plea by a Constitution bench. “There is no need to defer the hearing again… We are going to tell the Supreme Court through our counsel tomorrow that our petition on Article 35A should be decided by a Constitution bench,” Chetan Sharma, convener of the J&K chapter of the civil society ‘We the Citizens’, told reporters yesterday.
Key political parties of Jammu and Kashmir PDP and National Conference stated that there would be no jammu and Kashmir left if this provision is tampered with, and have vowed to fight the battle together. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has warned that if Article 35A is removed, there won’t be anyone left to carry the Tricolour in Kashmir; Omar Abdullah has called it the death knell for pro-India politics in the Valley.
The state government has filed an application before the Registrar of the Supreme Court, informing that it is going to seek adjournment of the hearing of the petition in view of the “ongoing preparations for the upcoming Panchayat, urban local body and municipal elections in the state”. The Central government led by BJP has, however, refused to take a stand on the issue, with Attorney General K K Venugopal informing the court that it was “very sensitive” and required a “larger debate”.
Amarnath yatra was on Sunday suspended from Jammu in view of the two day separatist sponsored strike against the legal challenge in the Supreme Court on the validity of Article 35-A. There were reports of partial strike and peaceful rallies in support of the Article 35-A from Chenab valley districts of Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar.