Mehbooba's flag remark sparks outrage,BJP says Article 35 A isn't a 'sacred-cow'

Jammu: Expressing shock and surprise over its ally and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's flag remarks, the BJP today asserted that Article 35-A of the Constitution which grants special status to the state is "not a sacred cow that cannot be touched".

The state unit of the BJP said that while the party stands by the Agenda of Alliance with the PDP and won't seek alteration of existing constitutional position, "it is equally true that Article 35-A has done more harm to the state than any other provision of law."

The biggest challenge before the state is to save the Sufi ethos of Kashmir's culture which are facing an assault from separatism and Islamic fundamentalism in the Valley, it said.

The party said all efforts of the state government and the Kashmiri people should be towards the protection of the these humane values and identity, instead of raking issues of Article 35-A and Article 370 which have led to inequalities and have retarded the state's growth due to "self-isolation".

"We are greatly shocked and surprised by the statement of Mehbooba that by challenging Article 35-A, the nationalist forces in the Valley get weakened and that... India will not get a shoulder to carry its national flag in the state", BJP state spokesperson Virender Gupta told reporters here.

"Article 370 was incorporated in Indian Constitution as a temporary provision. It (Article 35-A and Article 370) is not a sacred cow that cannot be touched," he said.

Mehbooba Mufti yesterday said at a function in New Delhi "Who is doing it? Why are they doing it? (challenging the Article 35-A). Let me tell you that my party and other parties who carry the national flag there (in Jammu and Kashmir) despite all risks.... I have no doubt in saying that there will be no one to hold it (national flag) (if it is tinkered)."

Referring to militancy and fundamentalism, the BJP today said "these challenges are extremely great than what these leaders, in particular the separatists, perceive, i.e. the removal of Article 35 or Article 370", Gupta said.

Sunil Sethi, chief spokesperson of state BJP, said the CM's remarks on Article 35-A do not depict the true picture and are politically incorrect.

"Article 35-A has in fact led to disparity and inequalities in the state," Sethi said.

It has created a situation where there is no gender parity for female state subjects and their children, he claimed.

"Though the party stands by the Agenda of Alliance and won't seek alteration of existing Constitutional position, but it is equally true that Article 35-A has done more harm to the state than any other provision of law," he said.

He also blamed the provision for slow growth and progress of the state.

"Despite having natural resources, the state is in a financial mess because of self isolation," Sethi said.

He said that bearing the national flag in the state is an honour for all citizens and the party firmly believes that every person of the state is first an Indian and then a state subject.

"Nationalism of the people of the state can't be understated by linking it with continuation of Art 35-A," he said.

Gupta said terrorists and separatists are causing disturbances in the Valley, at the behest of Pakistan, its spy agency ISI and ISIS.

"The majority of the population in Jammu and Kashmir is nationalist and committed to uphold the integrity of the country and believes that their interests and aspirations are safe as Indians," Gupta said.

He said that Kashmir is facing a serious danger from the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and referred to the "unimaginable disaster" unleashed by these forces in Syria, Iraq and some of the other countries. Agencies

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