Article 35A: As Hearing Date Closes In, Kashmir Grows Anxious

Traders hit streets, demand upholding law on special of citizenry of J&K

SRINAGAR — There is rising sense of unease in Kashmir Valley as hearing in the Supreme Court on petitions, challenging the validity of Article 35A of the Constitution that guarantees special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir, nears.

On May 5, the apex court posted the hearing for August 6 after the Centre told the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to defer the clubbed cases because its “special representative” Dineshwar Sharma was in talks with elected representatives of the state, political parties, different organisations and residents of Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the matter. Last month, the Centre decided it won’t file any ‘counter-affidavit’ on Article 35A.

Most of the mainstream political parties and separatists have warned against ‘tinkering’ with Article 35A of the Constitution that guarantees special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir .

Residents of the Kashmir Valley are worried that scrapping of the Article or any amendment to it will lead to a demographic change in Kashmir

 On Wednesday, the business community in Kashmir took out a peaceful march here against the petitions in the Supreme court challenging the validity of the Article 35A.

The march was carried out from Residency Road to Press Enclave in the heart of the city, a police official said.

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 The protest was against “attempts to dilute the special status of the state”, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) President Javid Ahmad Tenga said.

“We express our concern over the threat to abrogate Article 35A through mischievous scheming,” he said, adding the protest was organised by several trade, business bodies and civil society groups.

He said that the business community would not shy away from “shedding their blood” for protection of the special status granted to the state.

Article 35A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of J&K and denies property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state.

It empowers the state legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on the grounds of violation of the Right to Equality of people from other states or any other right under the Constitution.

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