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Omar takes aim at BJP, paints scary picture if J-K’s special status is scrapped

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah has once again warned that scrapping Article 35A of the Constitution that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, would be disastrous for the state.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2017 16:11 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
hindustan Times, Jammu
Jammu and Kashmir,Omar Abdullah,National Conference
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah accused the BJP of riding piggyback on an NGO to abolish Article 35A of the Constitution.(HT PHOTO)

Former chief minister and working president of National Conference Omar Abdullah on Monday put the BJP in his line of fire, accusing it of taking legal recourse via an NGO to abolish Article 35 A of the Constitution which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“The BJP, which realized that it won’t be possible to get special status of the state revoked via Parliament and Assembly, adopted a discreet way to get it scrapped via an NGO in the Supreme Court.” he said while addressing the party’s district and block presidents here at the NC’s headquarters.

“But let me remind all that the Supreme Court in the past had twice stated that special status of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be scrapped,” he said.

The petition, filed by a Delhi-based NGO, We the citizens, demanded that the Article 35A should be held “unconstitutional” as the President could not have “amended the Constitution” by way of the 1954 order, and that it was only supposed to be a “temporary provision”. The Article was never presented before Parliament, and came into effect immediately.

Omar also apprised them about “serious” ramifications if the special status of the state under Indian Constitution ceased.

The younger Abdullah said that if Article 35 A was abolished then state subject laws introduced by the erstwhile Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 and 1932 shall also cease.

“People from outside the state will come here to settle down. They will take away government jobs at the expense of our children. They will acquire land in the state and they will be speaking a language that won’t be understood by our people because they won’t be speaking Dogri, Gojri, Pahari, Giddi, Kashmiri or other local languages,” said Omar in a bid to project the “scary” picture.

Article 35A of the Constitution provides special rights and privileges to the “permanent residents” of J&K — a provision which came into effect in 1954 when the President used the powers conferred on him by Article 370 to introduce the ‘Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 1954’.

Under the provision, which appears in the Constitution as an “appendix” — and not as an amendment — to the Article 35, citizens from other parts of the country are prohibited from acquiring immovable property in the J&K, taking up employment under the state government, availing of the state-sponsored scholarship schemes, or settling permanently anywhere in the state

“Now, BJP has made it Jammu versus Kashmir issue by projecting before the people that 35A is beneficial to Kashmir but harmful to Jammu. Let me tell all that even if 35A is scrapped, no outsider shall go to Kashmir because of its situation. Even the people in Kashmir send their children to Jammu, Pathankot, Delhi, Mumbai, Madras and other parts of the country for their studies. The outsiders will come to Jammu. They will raise big hotels in Jammu, Katra, Reasi and other parts. They will purchase all your land,” he said.

In an interview to a Srinagar daily last week, Omar had raised an alarm, saying the state government’s defence for protection of the constitutional provision was “extremely weak” and had “far too many gaps for other side to exploit.

“I have gone through the counter-affidavit filed by the state government in the Supreme Court to defend the Article 35A. I believe that the affidavit is extremely weak. The arguments that could have been made and should have been made are not being brought out as forcefully as should have been done,” he had said.

First Published: Aug 14, 2017 14:34 IST