Tuesday, October 24, 2017
SRINAGAR: With Kashmir on the edge, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti will call on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national capital on Friday amid fears that the Article 35 A might be struck down by the Apex court.
Sources said the chief minister will discuss the “fallout of the litigation”, pending before a three-member bench of the apex court, with the PM and the anger it has sparked off in Kashmir with separatists calling for a bandh tomorrow.
The meeting will take place days after Mehbooba met the National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister Omar Abdullah, state Congress chief GA Mir, and other regional players, apparently to build pressure on her alliance partner, the BJP.
The events surrounding J&K's special status assumed hues of controversy last month in the apex court when the Centre, instead of filing its reply, called for a "larger debate" on a litigation filed by a little-known NGO in 2014 which calls for scrapping the Article 35 A.
The BJP, powered by the Sangh ideology, has traditionally stood for the abrogation of J&K's special status. The agenda was part of the party's election manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
However, the 'Agenda of the Alliance' (AoA), a governance framework between the PDP and BJP in J&K before the coalition was formally announced after the 2014 assembly polls threw up a broken mandate, promises a status-quo on the special constitutional position of the State.
"The BJP has to keep its side of the bargain. You can't hunt with the hounds and run with the foxes. A status quo on J&K's constitutional position is part of AoA. Any attempt to fiddle with it will have grave consequences in the state," a senior PDP leader said, wishing anonymity.
Asked whether the Peoples Democratic Party will pull out of the alliance if the Article 35 A is scrapped, the party leader said: "What option will we have!," he said.
Mehbooba, who is also the PDP president, took everyone by surprise when she dropped at the residence of Dr Abdullah in Srinagar on Tuesday evening. The issue has, perhaps for the first time, brought the separatists and mainstream parties in Kashmir on the same page.
The Article 35 A was extended to J&K through ‘Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order issued by President Rajendra Prasad on 14 May, 1954, specifically devised to grant protection to state subject laws that had already been defined under the Maharaja’s rule and notified in 1927 and 1932.
Under the law which is 'clarificatory' in nature, the state subjects have got exclusive rights over land, property and government jobs in the state. Besides, only the state subjects can partake in assembly elections.
Similar legislations protect the rights of state subjects of Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar along with other states.