‘Article 35A constitutionally vulnerable, hampers development in J-K’: Arun Jaitley
The state is under President’s rule and the Union Cabinet takes all policy decisions related to the militancy-hit state.Updated: Mar 28, 2019 23:42 IST
Finance minister Arun Jaitley said in a blog that the “constitutionally vulnerable” Article 35A has denied the people of the state of Jammu & Kashmir a booming economy, economic activity and jobs, even as he cautioned Opposition parties in the state for being “being soft in criticizing separatism”.
He also said most Indians believe that the Nehruvian course, which the State had embarked, was a “historical blunder”
Jaitley wrote that Article 35A was “surreptitiously included” in the Indian Constitution in 1954 and the law allows the State Government to discriminate between citizens. He pointed out that millions of Indians in J&K vote in Lok Sabha elections but not in other polls. “Their children cannot get government jobs. They cannot own property and their children cannot get admitted to governmental institutions. The heirs of ladies marrying outside the State are disinherited from owing or inheriting property,” he added.
Article 35A, part of the constitutional special status granted to the state restricts property ownership and other benefits to the state’s domiciled residents.
The finance minister also said that due to Article 35A, the state does not have adequate financial resources and that its ability to raise more funds are crippled.
“No investor is willing to set up an industry, hotel, private educational institutions or private hospitals since he can neither buy land or property; nor can his executives. Their wards cannot get government jobs or admission to colleges. This prevents enrichment, resource generation and job creation,” Jaitley said.
Article 35A has become the subject of a fierce political debate between the BJP and the Opposition parties. The BJP and some of its affiliates want the article to be diluted while the Opposition has warned the government against what it has termed a misadventure.
Reacting to Jaitley’s comment, NC vice-president and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah said that if everything is J&K is so rosy “why has Modi Sahib become the 1st PM since 1996 unable to have assembly elections in the state on time?” He also vowed to protect Article 35A and Article 370.
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir alleged that under BJP-rule the state has witnessed erosion in everything. “Since BJP came to power situation turned bad and people are fed up with the BJP. Our party has given Article 35A and 370 and will defend it.
BJP has no real issues so they are raising these issues,” he said. Suhail Bukhari, media advisor to PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, maintained that the PDP’s stand on the issue of 35A and 370 is clear.
“These are articles of faith for us and we are here to defend this status at any cost. BJP has only worsened the situation on ground denting any prospects of reconciliation. For their electoral theatrics, they have been raking up issues against Kashmir and Kashmiris” Jaitley also hit out at the Congress, PDP and NC indirectly, without taking their names: “Three families, since 1947, dominated that mainstream space. Two of them are based out of Srinagar and one in New Delhi. Regrettably, they let down the people of the State.”
He alleged that the “two major mainstream parties, even when they condemned terrorism, it was always with ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.”
“It is only their absolute distancing from separatism, violence and terrorism that can create an alternative space. Being soft in criticizing separatism does no good. It is for this reason that their own space has shrunk. This is the country’s disappointment with them,” he said.
Maintaining that the Centre always wanted to give more space to the mainstream parties in the Valley to shrink the separatists’ space, he also wondered, “Why should the rule of law that applies to the rest of the country not apply to the State? Should violence, separatism, mass stone throwing, vicious ideological indoctrination be allowed on the plea that if we check it, it will have a negative effect.” Narrating the steps taken by the NDA government, Jaitley said, “The separatists and the terrorists have been badly hit. The two mainstream parties are only giving television bytes and their activities are confined to social media.
The rule of law is being enforced in the Valley and is ensuring people a safe and peaceful life,” the finance minister concluded.