Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today that she has faith in institutions of the country and expressed confidence that the Supreme Court will dismiss a petition that challenges Article 35A of the Constitution. Mufti made it clear that power battles or political ideologies will not be a hindrance if there is a threat to the special status of J&K and said that she had followed rival National Conference’s leader Farooq Abdullah’s “fatherly advice” on the issue.
“We have faith in every institution of the country. We have seen many attempts by some people who want to take us back to 1947. They rush to the Supreme Court over one issue or the other. But we have confidence in our Supreme Court, which has dismissed petitions challenging the special status of J&K in the past.
“I am sure the Supreme Court will dismiss the present petition before it,” Mufti said in her address at the Independence Day function held at the Bakshi stadium here. Article 35A, which was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, empowers the state legislature to define permanent citizens and grant them special privileges.
A plea in the Supreme Court has challenged some of these provisions following which the Supreme Court has said that a constitution bench may examine whether Article 35A is gender- biased and violative of the basic structure. Speaking here, Mufti said the people of Jammu and Kashmir supported Shiekh Abdullah and decided to accede to India as they found similarities in the pluralism that existed in the state and the country.
“The parliament at that time felt that Jammu and Kashmir is different from other states, it has a distinct identity. It was decided that Jammu and Kashmir will be given a special position in the Constitution of the country,” she said. The chief minister said that there were mistakes committed from New Delhi as well as Srinagar.
“I don’t know what happened after that, why misunderstandings creeped in. Instead of becoming friends, we became enemies. There were some mistakes committed in Delhi and some mistakes here as well. The result has been that we are caught in violence for the past 30 years,” she added. Mufti said that many people across the country believe that J&K is the crown of India. There is no doubt about it and it should remain like that, she said.
Mufti, who is running a BJP-PDP coalition government in the state, said that power battles or political ideologies will not be a hindrance if there is a threat to the special status of J&K. “I assure my fellow citizens that whenever it comes to the identity of Jammu and Kashmir, we are all united. The battle for power and political battles are a separate issue. I am thankful to Farooq Abdullah for meeting me. I sought his guidance on the issue of the challenge to the special status of the state. He gave me a fatherly advice and I acted upon it,” she said.
Mufti said that as her state is faced with many problems, she will again seek Abdullah’s counsel whenever required.
I am hopeful that he will always give me the same fatherly advice, she added. The chief minister expressed hope that Pakistan will stop fuelling violence in the state which will pave the way for resumption of dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad.
“Shelling has resumed on borders. Many lives have been lost. The schools are closed, many people have been forced to migrate from their villages. How long will this continue?” she asked. Citing the example of US-North Korea stand off, she said Washington is keen to resolve the matter through dialogue even though there is huge disparity in the sizes of the two nations.
“For the past four months, China is creating trouble on the border. I am happy that our External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that war will not resolve any issue. Dialogue has to be held even after a war. I am hopeful that Pakistan will also understand this reality and stop playing a negative role in J&K, which will pave way for dialogue,” she said.
Pakistan will have to keep its promise made to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that they will not allow Pakistani soil to be used against India, she said. Mufti expressed hope that the Centre will find ways to resolve the J&K issue through dialogue as has been done with other issues over the past seventy years.
“Kashmir is a humanitarian issue. Vajpayee had said that Jammu and Kashmir issue will be resolved within the ambit of humanity. I hope that centre will give an opportunity to people of Jammu and Kashmir to come out of the morass as dialogue is the only way for resolution. This is also part of our agenda of alliance (between PDP and BJP),” she said.
On the development front, Mufti said the people of the state will have to think where they are headed. Why are guns in the hands of our youth when they should be holding a pen and a book?, she asked.
She appealed to parents to keep their children away from subversive activities and give them proper education.
“People of the state have to think what they have achieved in the past 70 years. Every state of India has progressed since Independence. However, J&K despite having vast natural resources, is caught in problems,” she said. She also rued that pluralism was vanishing from Kashmir while it was vibrant in Jammu.
There was a time when there would be ‘azaan’ call from the mosque at Makhdoom Sahib shrine, while nearby, at a temple bells would ring and there also would be Gurbani in the day.
We cannot see that today, the chief minister said. Look at Jammu, early morning azaan is followed by bells ringing in temples and then Gurbani (in gurudwaras) during the day, she said. She said the people of Ladakh are now known so much for their hospitality that tourists, who visits once, keep coming back. “Now even Kashmiris go to Ladakh during their vacations,” she added.