Article 35-A Row: Abdullah’s Maintain Studied Silence    

SRINAGAR — While the mainstream parties are desperately seeking a common cause with the separatists over the Article 35-A by holding street protests, top leadership of both National Conference and the PDP maintain a studied silence.

During PDP-BJP coalition period, NC patron Dr Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, the heirs of National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, were outspoken on the issue of Article 35A which accords special power to Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for framing laws to give privileges and rights to the residents of the state.

While people from all walks of the life have come together, seeking upholding of Article 35A, Farooq Abdullah, one of the two incumbent parliamentarians from Kashmir Valley, have preferred silence. Nothing has been heard from the other parliamentarian too, the PDP senior leader and former deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been active on twitter, only sharing pictures about protests by party leaders or filing of an application for intervention filed before Supreme Court.

The father and son would spare no time every time Article 35A would be called into question, either in TV debates or seriously before the Supreme Court.   

Last year Farooq warned New Delhi, saying that if the Centre does any tinkering with the existing arrangement concerning Jammu and Kashmir, there would be a huge protest, much bigger than what was seen during the Amarnath Shrine land controversy.

Political observers believe that the silence is meaningful and there are obvious reasons to it. “They don’t want to upset government of India and want to remain in good books of those who matter in power corridors in Delhi.”

The obvious reasons, they see: “The powerful voices in NC don’t want to annoy New Delhi as both father son duo still see ray of hope for getting in the saddle.”  

Article 35A accords special power to Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for framing laws to give privileges and rights to the residents of the state. It entitles the Assembly to define Permanent Residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Exercising its powers under Article 35A, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly defined Permanent Resident as a person who was a state subject on May 14, 1954 or who had been a resident of the state for 10 years and has “lawfully acquired immovable property in the state.”

A person who is not a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir is not allowed to vote in state Assembly election or contest election to the state Assembly.

The state also framed laws exercising powers granted by Article 35A to bar an outsider from buying property in or from settling in Jammu and Kashmir. Such a person cannot get a job in the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Repeal of Article 35A may have some far reaching implications. It will immediately nullify all the 41 subsequent Presidential Orders.

Prior to insertion of Article 35A, the Governor and the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir were addressed as the Sadr-e-Riyasat (President) and Wazir-e-Azam (Prime Minister). Its repeal would lead back to the same arrangement.

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