Mehbooba Mufti approaches NC for all-party meet
People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on Monday urged National Conference patron and member of Parliament from Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah, to convene an all-party meeting following speculation that the Centre was preparing a plan to revoke Article 35A of the Constitution that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges on them.
The revocation of Article 35A and Article 370 [which grants special status to J&K] is one of the promises listed in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto for the April-May general elections in which the party return to power with 303 seats out of 543 in the Lok Sabha.
“In light of recent developments that have caused a sense of panic among people in J&K, I’ve requested Dr Farooq Abdullah sahab to convene an all party meeting. Need of the hour is to come together & forge a united response. We the people of Kashmir need to stand up as one,’’ tweeted Mehbooba Mufti.
There were reports that the BJP high command has summoned its J&K core group for an “urgent meeting” in Delhi on July 30. This led to speculation that the assembly elections are imminent in the state. There were also rumours that the party could discuss Article 35A.
The tweet of former chief minister came hours after J&K police issued a circular seeking details on mosques, their management committees and imams which went was widely circulated on social media and many linked it to the Centre’s plan to revoke Article 35A. The police have termed it a routine exercise though.
Soon after Muft’s tweet, NC vice-president Omar Abdullah said that his party was trying to understand the intentions of the central government before deciding on the all-party meeting.
“Before calling senior leaders from other parties in J&K to discuss the current situation, it’s important to try to understand from the Central Govt about their intentions for the state & also how they see the situation at the moment. This is what @JKNC_is focused on,’’ tweeted Omar Abdullah.
Meanwhile, the National Conference on Monday asked its three MPs to raise the current situation in Kashmir in Parliament. “JKNC HMP’s have given the notice to raise the current situation in Kashmir in the Lok Sabha today and have also sought an appointment with PM Narendra Modi,” a tweet from the party’s official account read.
Former India Administrative Service officer Shah Faesal who formed his own political party a few months ago also had said that onus lies with the NC and the PDP leadership to form a joint strategy.
On Sunday, Mufti warned the central government that any attempt to tinker with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir would blow up in its face.
“We want to tell central government that tinkering with Article 35A is like picking up explosives. Not only will those hands burn which are raised to touch 35A but also the whole body will become ashes,” Mufti said while addressing the 20th foundation day of her party in Srinagar.
Her comments came after a central government ordered deployment of additional 100 companies of the central forces in Jammu and Kashmir to reinforce counter-insurgency operations and maintain law and order.
The state is currently under President’s rule and, over the past few days, every government order is being seen as a precursor to revoking Article 35A.
On Sunday, an order from a senior railway official to his subordinates telling them how to respond to the situation in case it turns violent and the action which railways staff require to take — stocking rations for at least four months; sending families back home — was circulated on the media.
Later in the evening, a senior railway official had issued a clarification saying that the senior divisional security commissioner was on a year’s study leave (from last week) and “the next in line issued the letter which is based on his own perception” and that this person “is not authorized to issue any such letter.’’