Updated: August 17, 2017 8:19:57 am
The Jammu and Kashmir government is sending four top ministers to Delhi on Friday to explore further “legal support” for the state government in Supreme Court on Article 35A. They are also expected to explain to leaders at the Centre the “devastating implications” in case the constitutional provision is struck down and ensure the Union government backs the state’s stance in the apex court.
“We are going to Delhi on 18th (August) to see what can be done to put up a strong defence to our case,’’ state Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan said. “We will meet people and seek further legal opinion.”
He said the J&K government’s talks with the Centre have been “very fruitful”, and that PDP and BJP, coalition partners in the state, are talking at every level.
Appreciating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s views on ways to resolve the Kashmir impasse in his Independence Day speech, Khan said, “It (the speech) said everything. It gave everyone a lot of hope. So I don’t think there is any reason to worry.”
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Khan was referring to Modi’s remarks that the Kashmir problem cannot be resolved through “gaali” (abuse) or “goli (bullets)”, and that change can “only come by embracing Kashmiris”.
Besides the Law Minister, his senior Cabinet colleagues Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, Horticulture Minister Syed Basharat Bukhari and Information, Food and Supplies Minister Choudhary Zulfikar will travel to Delhi. Drabu was the PDP’s points person in the party’s talks with the BJP, which was represented by Ram Madhav, during the coalition formation.
Drabu and Madhav were also architects of the agenda of alliance between the two parties. He is seen as close to the BJP brass and is valued in Delhi, especially after he brought J&K under the Goods and Services
Tax regime without any major hassle. Bukhari is a former Law minister, while Choudhary is an influential Gujjar leader from Rajouri, and his presence in the group of ministers is said to be important.
Sources said Sangh Parivar outfits campaigning for removal of Article 35A have been trying to rope in the support of Gujjar Muslim population, especially in Pirpanchal region of Jammu, by promising that the Centre will provide Gujjars 14 per cent political reservation if they break away from the position of the Muslim majority in the state.
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