Article 370 hearing: Kashmir leaders accuse BJP of peddling lies in SC - Hindustan Times

Article 370 hearing: Kashmir leaders accuse BJP of peddling lies in SC

By, Ashiq Hussain, Jammu/srinagar
Sep 01, 2023 12:06 AM IST

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that Union government is ready for polls in Jammu and Kashmir, but can’t give a timeline for restoration of its statehood

Political parties and leader across Jammu and Kashmir have expressed their disappointment in the submissions by the Union government in the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday.

The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the revocation of provisions of Article 370 (HT File)
The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the revocation of provisions of Article 370 (HT File)

After solicitor general Tushar Mehta submitted in the apex court that the Union government is ready for elections at any time in J&K but cannot provide a timeline for restoration of its statehood, former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti accused the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre of peddling lies before the SC. National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), People’s Conference (PC) and Apni Party expressed concern and said that there is nothing new what the Centre told the court.

The SC is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the revocation of provisions of Article 370 and 35-A. Mehta on Thursday told the apex court that the Election Commission has to take a call on conducting polls in the region.

NC president Farooq Abdullah said, “Centre has been peddling lies repeatedly. What SC did is a very good step, a welcome step (to hear the petitions)”.

“The Union government has been promising assembly elections in J&K for over two years but hasn’t given any timeline. It has not mentioned any deadline for the restoration of statehood. We demand that the statehood be restored first and then elections ne held because we fear that they (Centre) give us a truncated government like Delhi,” said Abdullah.

The row between Delhi government and Centre has escalated over the latter’s ordinance on control of administrative services in the capital, bringing transfers and postings of bureaucrats in Delhi under Centre’s purview.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said, “They (BJP government) lie all the time. Can there be a bigger lie that ‘Election Commission has to take the call on elections in J&K’. We all know that they have subverted all the institutions in this country.”

“Using brute majority, they revoked Article 370 unconstitutionally and arbitrarily stripped the state of its special status,” she added.

J&K Congress president Vikar Rasool Wani said, “Since June 2018, there have been no elections in J&K, except local bodies’ polls. Assembly elections are being deliberately delayed. The SC is kept under dark by the Centre. They (BJP government) are repeating statements which they had made in the Parliament.”

“The Centre has stated that the Election Commission has to conduct polls but somewhere the commission is under the influence of the BJP government,” Wani added.

The Congress chief also said that the Centre didn’t come clean on statehood.

“We hope when final decision of the apex court comes, it will have a clear timeline on statehood followed by elections. The court should make EC a party to the petitions being heard and ask EC why Assembly elections are being delayed in J&K when the Centre claims they are ready for the polls,” said Wani.

PC president Sajad Gani Lone said that the submissions made in SC are not different from the statements by the central government over four years.

“This is the highest pedestal of the judiciary and if they ask a question and the answer is as ambiguous and evasive as it was four years ago, it is a matter of concern,” Lone said.

“Even on statehood, they (Centre) are evasive. Is J&K still a special state? Is this ill-treatment just meant for J&K or will this be a new norm where states are converted into Union Territories. This is something SC needs to ponder on,” he added.

Lone questioned why was a date for Assembly polls not given. “I would love to hear a date…If everything is okay why aren’t elections being held,” he said.

NC spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said that the party went to SC with the aim of “striking down the revocation of Article 370 as unconstitutional.”

“Despite our stance that the restoration of democratic rights and a legitimate elected body cannot be delayed, the SG’s statement intends to divert attention from the core issue, trying to simplify it to a mere call for elections. There is no novelty in the statement. It echoes with what they’ve been asserting for all these years,” Dar said.

Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari said that the Centre’s stand in the Supreme Court was very casual. “There is nothing new in the statement. It is a casual statement,” he said.

PDP chief spokesperson Suhail Bukhari said that the question of statehood or elections was not a priority for them, but the special status of J&K. He said that after the Centre’s statement on elections, all eyes will be on the Election Commission.

“The EC and BJP have been throwing the ball into each other’s courts. Now, it will be interesting to see what the EC does. We have been saying that has been that the EC has worked as an extension of the BJP,” Bukhari said.

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