‘Fiddling With Article 35A Would Be Catastrophic’

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Kashmir Ink Joins Hands, Vows To Protect Law On J&K’s Exclusive Citizenry Rights 

SRINAGAR — Kashmir’s business community on Monday warned against fiddling with the Article 35-A of Indian Constitution saying it would be catastrophic even as they vowed to fight for the protection of the constitutional provision which has been challenged in the Supreme Court. 

“The protest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir on this issue is in all purposes legal and necessary…We announce full support to the call of strike given by Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) on 5th and 6th of August,” said a joint statement by 27 trade bodies issued at a press conference here.

Article 35A, promulgated by the President in 1954, gives powers to the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the permanent residents of the state and also their privileges. However, its constitutional validity has been challenged in the apex court where the case will come up for next hearing on August 6.

Business representatives appealed the Supreme Court to dismiss the petitions challenging the validity of the provision.

The organisations which supported the separatist JRL programme include Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), Kashmir Economic Alliance, Houseboat Owners Association, Valley Fruit Growers Association and Tourist Taxi Operators Association.

Speaking on the occasion, trade leader Muhammad Yasin Khan said that it will have serious ramifications if Article 35A is tinkered with. He said people of Chenab Valley and Pir Panchal are supporting them and they are on the same page.

The challenge to Article 35A has added fuel to Kashmir unrest, and warned that “any fiddling with this constitutional provision would be catastrophic”.

“We wish to inform the general public that if the said Article is removed or tinkered with, then the rights of original citizens of Jammu and Kashmir on their immovable property and other such rights would be taken away and all Indians would be accorded a right to establish their settlements in length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir pushing away the original citizens. The purpose behind this PIL is devious to change the demographic character of Jammu Kashmir and alter the nature of dispute that is internationally recognised.”

“The worry among the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir to resist against the attempted onslaught is very much justified.  Let us make it amply clear that the hereditary state subject law of Jammu and Kashmir shall be protected at any cost even on the lives of the citizens and no tampering with this law would ever be tolerated. The powers that be are hereby put on notice to take all necessary steps to get the nefarious PIL filed by an RSS backed NGO dismissed at the earliest in order to save themselves from its political ramifications and consequences. This matter is related to the life and death of the people of Jammu Kashmir and we all are ready to spill our blood to safeguard this law,” said Dr Mubeen Shah, former president of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce. 

Traders also announced support to the protest shutdown called by the Joint Resistance Leadership in support of Article 35A on August 5 and 6.

 “As we have already stated that the protest of the people of Jammu Kashmir on this issue is in all purposes legal and necessary. Various organisations mentioned hereunder have unanimously charted out a strategy and program to contest the onslaught that has already been communicated and shall be followed by individual organisations initially till 6Th of August 2018, the day of hearing. We also hereby announce our full support to the call of strike given by JRL on 5th and 6th of August 2018.”

Top separatist leaders of Kashmir on Sunday called for strikes on August 5 and 6 in the state and warned of launching a “mass agitation of hitting and occupying streets”. 

Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) met at Geelani’s residence on Sunday and deliberated on the “serious challenge” posed to Article 35A in the Supreme Court.

“The attempt to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir and insidiously destroy its disputed nature has always been on the agenda of BJP/RSS and the challenge to 35A in the Indian Supreme Court is a serious part of that plan,” JRL said in a statement after the meet.

The leaders said that the plan meant “Kashmiris will become a minority in their own land” and “will be pushed to the margins”.

Jammu Chamber Not To Back KCCI

Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries Monday announced that they will not support the stand of Kashmir’s counterpart with regard to Article 35 A-that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.

“We will not comment on the matter as it is subjudice. The Supreme Court verdict with regard to Article 35A will be in the interest of the State and its people,” President, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Rakesh Gupta told news agency CNS over phone.

When asked whether they will accept the decision, if Supreme Court annuls Article 35 A, Gupta said they will abide by the verdict of the court and accept it wholeheartedly.

“We work jointly with Kashmir Chamber on different issues but here our opinions differ. Neither we oppose the stand taken by our Kashmir counterpart on this issue nor do we support them. We have our own point of view with regard to Article 35A and we don’t subscribe to the stand and views of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries,” Rakesh Gupta said.

Pertinently, Muhammad Yasin Khan, during a joint press briefing said that traders and other bodies from Chenab Valley and Pir Panchal Division have extended full support to them and they stand with the people of Kashmir on the issue. (CNS)   

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