Bharatiya Janata Party ally and Peoples’ Conference president Sajjad Lone has sent out a warning to the Narendra Modi government against any tampering with Article 35-A which promises special rights and privileges to people of Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking to The Indian Express, Lone said that any change introduced to the special Constitutional character will only deteriorate the situation further in the state.
Lone said that the if the Centre decides to fiddle with Article 35-A, it will be slaughter of the mainstream thought in the Valley. He suggested that the best thing government can do is to keep away and find ways to take remedial measures.
“You have to understand that these are Articles of trust, Articles of dignity. This is how India as a country is perceived here — will it or will it not stand by its promises? It would be the unluckiest day because that would be the death of mainstream thought here,” Lone told the daily.
“If they (Centre) want to slaughter the mainstream thought, they are most welcome but that is what they will be doing by tinkering with Article 35A,” he added.
Lone was given a ministerial berth in the erstwhile coalition government headed by PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti from BJP’s quota. He had even staked the claim to form government with the support of BJP’s MLAs when PDP, NC and Congress had come together to go past the halfway mark of 45 in 89 members House.
He noted that the state is under the President’s rule and any changes will be a mockery of the Constitution. The Governor’s rule, he said, is an interim arrangement to conduct the routine business.
“If you make bigger changes in Governor’s rule, it is not only making a mockery of the promises that the country has made in the last seven decades but also institutional mockery,” Lone said.
When asked about the rising incidents of targeting Kashmiris outside the Valley, Lone described the situation as the ‘seven darkest days’. Several incidents of attacks on Kashmiri students have been reported from different parts after the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama of south Kashmir.
On arrest of separatists, Lone said that it will only help them and provide another set of leadership for the next decades. “It has failed in the past and would only help the separatists,” he said.