Article 35A: Growing Chorus for Special Assembly Session

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After National Conference leader and the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah sought a special session of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature to frame an appropriate response to counter the narrative on Article 35A of the Constitution, now Congress, CPI(M) and PDF have asked the government to convene a special session of the legislature to discuss this crucial issue. In a joint statement, CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam M Y Tarigami and PDF chairman and MLA Khan Sahib Hakim Muhammad Yaseen said that the state government should take the case very seriously, and “not depend on hollow assurances by the Centre”. Similarly, on Monday, a  body of the civil society groups also made a similar demand. Talking to media, one of its members Ghulam Nabi Shaheen urged all the parties to urgently call special session of the Assembly and a special session of the legislative council “to re-affirm their resolve to protect the Article 35A”. Incidentally, the civil society meeting was also attended by Muzaffar Shah, the leader of Awami National Conference and the son of the former Chief Minister Ghulam Mohammad Shah.

The successive calls for a special Assembly session on Article 35A and a flurry of the political and civil society activities spawned by a threat to the all important state subject law accurately underline the prevailing restiveness in the Valley. What is more, the apprehended move has united divergent ideological and political groups in the state. And one can understand why. Perhaps never before has New Delhi been perceived to be making as concerted a bid to mess with the state’s leftover special constitutional position as in the past three years – albeit, some of this perception reinforced by the BJP’s ideological stance on the state. The party has appeared to be in a tearing hurry to pursue its longstanding agenda on the state. True, there is also a long troubled history playing in the background and influencing the current course of the politics and the social conversations. But, as it turns out, it is not the larger abstract discourse of the conflict and the attendant subliminal sense of being wronged that has been getting the people to streets to die and be blinded. It is something more physical, raw and everyday in nature. And this something comes about when New Delhi seems to live up to the longstanding narrative about it in Kashmir, now more explicitly than ever. And this narrative, aided by the history of the past seventy years, sees New Delhi always conspiring to undermine the state’s autonomy, not stopping even at its drastic erosion so far but working opportunistically to see the end of it.

But despite all this deep sense of apprehension and foreboding pervading  the air, the centre has not deemed it worth its while to reassure the people of the Valley. Now that the Valley seems on the verge of yet another unrest, it is time the centre speaks.

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