Hope and Paranoia

In a welcome assurance, J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik on Wednesday  said that there is no plan at any level to abrogate Article 35-A which forbids outsiders from settling in J&K. He said that the people should not pay heed to rumors making rounds about Centre contemplating to do away with special domicile rights of the J&K residents. He blamed the local politicians for stoking these fears. Similarly responding to a question on Article 35A, senior BJP leader and the party’s J&K in-charge Ram Madhav cryptically said that the centre will do what was in the interest of J&K and its people. He, however added that his party’s position on J&K’s special status was well-known.  This mixed reaction from the Governor and a top BJP functionary hasn’t left people any more wiser about the fate of the J&K’s special constitutional status than they were before. More so when a deep sense of apprehension and foreboding  has been pervading the Valley over the past two weeks.

On the other hand, past two days have witnessed the J&K political parties other than the BJP  making moves to forge  a united front against the anticipated assault on the state’s special constitutional status. On the urging of the PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, the National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah has agreed to hold an all party meeting to discuss strategy to resist any bid to revoke  Article 35A. But while the parties were at it, Abdullah was called for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate in Chandigarh.  But all the parties have lent their support to collective efforts to pre-empt any tinkering with the state’s special status.

Meanwhile also a National Conference delegation, led by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to discuss the situation in the state.

The developments like these have generated some hope among people but they have not sufficiently addressed the anxiety about the centre’s intention. Governor Malik has certainly tried to  clear the vitiated air, but the centre has been largely silent, and, in fact, spoken in many voices. Therefore, it is still what the centre does in practice about Article 35A that remains the touchstone about the professed sincerity of its words, including that of the Governor. People now expect the words to be matched by the deed.

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