Three opposition leaders met J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday to discuss threats to the Constitution’s Article 35 A that grants the state legislature powers to define Jammu and Kashmir’s permanent residents. Mufti sought support of Democratic Party chief Ghulam Hassan Mir, Democratic Front chairman Hakeem Yaseen and Mohammad Yusuf Taragami (CPM) during the hour-long meeting.
“We raised concerns regarding abrogation of Article 35 A that is being contested in the Supreme Court. We told chief minister that sentiments of Kashmiri people will get hurt which will lead to chaos in the state,’’ said Mir. He said that they told Mufti to seriously take up the case in the court and forthwith with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “ Article 35 A is about existence of people of the state’s three regions: Ladakh, Kashmir and Jammu. It is not a regional or a communal issue.”
Yasin said that Mufti, who had met National Conference (NC) patron Farooq Abdullah to discuss the issue on Tuesday, was cordial and concerned. “We have decided to fight for this jointly…,’’ he said. “We conveyed to the chief minister that we should fight this politically as well as through legal means…’’ Yasin said that both opposition and the ruling party should try to educate people that this is not a communal issue but pertains to the rights of the state’s three regions. “We told the chief minister that she should also speak to her coalition partners about the serious consequences… not only in Kashmir but in other regions as well.’’ Yasin said that opposition leaders have begun a campaign to educate people. “We will be putting up a united front.’’
The fresh meeting was part of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s efforts to rally mainstream political parties to safeguard the Article 35 A, which an NGO has challenged before the Supreme Court. Abdullah had chaired a separate meeting of opposition parties over the issue on Monday. Separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani asked the mainstream politicians to join their ranks to resolve the Kashmir issue while calling the challenge to the provision “a well thought out ploy to temper with the state’s Muslim majority character’’. He has called for a strike on Saturday against tinkering of Article 35 A.