Article 35A: NC for J&K Opposition meet, slams Centre’s call for ‘larger debate’

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said that “questioning the special status of Jammu and Kashmir will in fact put a question mark on the accession itself”.

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | New Delhi | Updated: August 7, 2017 8:05 am
article 35a, jammu kashmir special status, omar abdullah, national conference, centre on jammu kashmir special status, jammu kashmir opposition meeting, indian express, india news Former Jammu and Kashmir CM and President of National Conference Omar Abdullah. (Source: PTI Photo)

Strongly objecting to the Centre’s position in Supreme Court last month, when it sought a “larger debate” on Article 35A, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the state’s accession to the Indian Union and its special status are “two sides of the same coin” and “if there is debate on (the legality) of the Article, you will have to debate the accession itself”. Speaking to The Indian Express on Sunday, the former chief minister said that NC patron Farooq Abdullah will hold an informal meeting on Monday with Opposition leaders in J&K to evolve a joint response to prevent any move to tamper with the state’s special status.

Omar said that “questioning the special status of J&K will in fact put a question mark on the accession itself”. “Like Article 370, Article 35A was negotiated between the princely state of J&K and the government of India and it is the bedrock of accession,’’ he said. “How can the Attorney General welcome a debate on Article 35A? Are they ready for a debate on accession? The special status of J&K is enshrined in the Constitution and it cannot be tampered with or removed. It is an article of faith,” said Omar.

“What you saw during the Amarnath land row was nothing in comparison to what will happen (if Article 35A is tampered with)… That (Amarnath land transfer) was a notional idea but this (tampering with Article 35A) will be a clear cut indication. You (Centre) are in effect altering the demography of J&K state,” he said. Article 35A is a provision in the Constitution that empowers the J&K legislature to define permanent residents of the state. It was added through the ‘Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954’, issued under Article 370.

The J&K Constitution, which was adopted on November 17, 1956, defined a Permanent Resident as a person who was a state subject on May 14, 1954, or who has been a resident of the state for 10 years, and has “lawfully acquired immovable property in the state”. The J&K legislature can only alter the definition of PR through a law passed by a two-thirds majority. The PR law replicated a state subject law promulgated by Dogra king Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 following a strong campaign by Kashmiri Pandits who were opposed to the hiring of civil servants from Punjab because it affected their representation in the administration. The Kashmiri-Pandit agitation did not affect the Muslim majority because the Dogras largely kept the community out of the administration as a matter of policy.

In 2014, an NGO We the Citizens filed a writ petition seeking the striking down of Article 35A. While the J&K government filed a counter-affidavit and sought dismissal of the petition, the central government did not, despite pleas from the state government, especially the PDP. Last month, Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud that the petition raised Constitutional issues after which the court referred the matter to a three-judge bench and set six weeks for final disposal.

The Centre’s decision to not come out in support of the J&K government’s position is seen as part of a series of moves to breach the state’s special status. The RSS and the BJP, which is part of the ruling alliance with PDP, are opposed to Article 35A because it bars non-state subjects from settling and buying property in J&K. Sangh groups are unanimous that the only way to permanently end the Kashmir dispute is to alter its demography by settling people from outside the state, with the right to acquire land and property, and vote in the assembly elections. The RSS claims that “J&K, with its oppressive Muslim majority, has been a headache for our country…”. The BJP manifesto for the J&K assembly elections had promised “land at cheap rates for establishment of Sainik colonies in major towns” for retired soldiers.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had warned the Centre last month that if the special status of J&K is tampered with, or Article 35A removed, there will be “no one to shoulder the Indian flag in the Valley”. She had said that J&K “would not exist” without the special status. Although the BJP’s central leadership has remained silent, its leaders in Jammu have sought the repeal of Article 35A, saying that it encourages a separate identity. The issue has started to generate a political storm in J&K. Omar Abdullah said that if the Centre removes Article 35A, its first impact will be felt in Jammu and Ladakh.

“The voices from Jammu ensured that this state subject law was enacted by the Maharaja,’’ he said, adding that this law wasn’t important only for Kashmir or its majority community alone but for all the state subjects. Omar said his party had contacted the PDP to discuss the issue. “We have spoken to them both inside the assembly and outside. But they are flying on the back of their own propaganda and are not ready to listen,’’ he alleged. On Monday’s meeting, he said, “We are trying everything to make the government understand the dangerous ramifications of their moves. We don’t want the state to burn.’’

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  1. S
    Salahuddin Ahmad
    Aug 18, 2017 at 1:53 am
    J K's autonomy must be restored to that of 1947 BEFORE ACCESSION. Actually, no Instrument of Accession was ever signed by Maharaja Hari Singh. That is a FORGED DOCUMENT with BOGUS SIGNATURES of Maharaja as well as Mountbatten too fabricated by Nehru's secretary V P Menon on a back dated document made in March 1948. Assembly made for National Conference(NC) was made by rejecting ALL nomination papers of opposition parties all 75 members were elected UNOPPOSED, a world record. That RIGGED assembly took decision having NO legitimacy. As no plebiscite under UN SC took place, state is DISPUTED. NC's assembly did not have any representation of Azad Kashmir. How can that decide fate of ENTIRE STATE ? INDIA HAS NO LOCUS STANDI on J K as Nehru adopted DILATORY TRICKS to EVADE OBFUSCATE PLEBISCITE EXERCISE.
    1. D
      Daya Sagar
      Aug 11, 2017 at 7:15 am
      Art 35A has been more used to show 'distances' between J K State and India, why ? Why have 'they' felt the need for going to the people for explaining Art 35A after its very existence has been questioned before the Apex court ? Is it wise to throw such challenges on the Courts for influencing an ultimate decision on a matter lying before the court for examination by saying some thing like "we have also decided to appeal the democratic voices and all credible sections of the society in the country to understand the dangers ahead and the serious implications of removing Article 35-A. This will be a dangerous move, dangerous for the state and as a country as a whole,” ? . Why only Kashmiri leaders get agitated when question has been raised on the very existence of Art35A of COI. PDP NC can influence a political decision by public pressure but surely neither they should nor they can influence a judicial decision with political pressures. Daya Sagar Sr Journalist
      1. P
        Aug 8, 2017 at 1:02 am
        1. P
          Aug 8, 2017 at 12:54 am
          1. O
            Aug 7, 2017 at 3:11 pm
            Covert Jihadis like NC and PDP can't dictate to anyone. Set right your hypocrisy first.
            1. M
              Aug 7, 2017 at 3:04 pm
              All states have to work under Indian law and cons ution. If National conference is so particular can parti te in the fight in the supreme court. Why to fret and fume. If it is sustainable the court will allow it otherwise strike it. These Regional parties enjoyed all these years and ensured no development in Kashmir. Which businessman will invest in Kashmir with out full rights on the land allotted to them? Regarding settling ousiders, those who are willing to fight only go and sttle. After all in democracy you can not stop any one.
              1. S
                Aug 7, 2017 at 1:24 pm
                Not just 35A but Art 370 should also be repealed, other wise Kashmir situationwill completly spin out of control. A sensitive border state like Kashmir must get less autonomy because it is a border state and there is greater peril there. Instead they are given greater autonomy which is proving detrimental to the state as a whole. Will Buffoon Omar explain what he means by the "change in demography " ???
                1. I
                  Aug 7, 2017 at 1:02 pm
                  Article 35A of the Indian Const-itution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state's legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. It is added to the Const-itution through a Presidential Order, i.e., The Const-itution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 - issued by the President of India and NOT added by a CONST-ITUTION AMENDMENT and so it should DELETED without reference to anyone.
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