JAMMU AUGUST 12- Describing Article 35A as constitutional guarantee to the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in general and the permanent residents of Jammu in particular, National Conference Provincial President Mr Devender Singh Rana on Saturdayaccused the BJP for putting a weak defence to defend this proviso.
“Those crying hoarse over this Article being against the interests of Dogras need to carry out a referendum across Jammu, at least, to find out the will of the people in this regard”, Mr Rana said at a press conference held at Sher-e- Kashmir Bhavan here this morning.
Mr Rana said the larger debate sought by the Attorney General in the apex court over Article 35A and provocative statements by the BJP leadership, together with weak defence for continuation of this proviso by the PDP led government is causing grave concern and apprehensions in the public mind.
“The overt and covert attempts of repealing this constitutional guarantee has put the state at cross roads of history”, he said adding that tampering with Article 35A will render the Article 370 hollow.
He said abrogation of Article 35A will be economically detrimental to the people of Jammu in particular, as youth will be deprived of jobs and the local business community will suffer due to influx of big business houses and traders from outside the state. He lamented that Jammu and Kashmir is being singled out just to satiate the peculiar agenda of BJP. “In this unholy pursuit, the PDP has volunteered to be a facilitator in order to weaken Article 370 and 35A”, he said and cautioned that National Conference will not allow it to happen, as it will mean trampling of the constitutional guarantee held out to the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. He said any attempt to weaken Article 35 A will be detrimental, not only to particular region or community, but the people of all faiths, regions and sub-regions of Jammu and Kashmir. He questioned the voices in favour of abrogating Article 35A and wondered why these are silent over unique status being enjoyed by Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Goa etc as per various sub sections (A to G) of Article 371.
Dwelling upon the circumstances leading to enactment of State Subject laws, the Provincial President said that it was on the pleas of the Dogra Pratinidhi Sabha and Kashmiri Pandit Sabha that Maharaja Hari Singh had brought these laws in 1927 to safeguard the interests of people of the State, especially Dogras of Jammu, from dominance of elite and affluent sections of non-state subjects, mostly from the neighbouring Punjab. He said enactment of these laws had not been sought either by the people of Kashmir or Ladakh but the Dogras of Jammu had legitimate apprehensions about wealthy businessmen from Punjab settling down in the region and shrinking their economy.
“The farsightedness shown by the Maharaja over nine decades ago is now being negated and exploited by the BJP, in its mistaken pursuit of ultra-nationalism”, he said.
Mr Rana said that BJP’s consistent tirade against Article 35A gives rise to apprehensions about clandestine deal reached with some people with vested interest, who want to strengthen their hegemony in Jammu.
To a question about the claim of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti about the Prime Minister having given ‘100 per cent’ assurance on the safeguard of Article 370 and Article 35A, Mr Rana said that if true then the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be reassured about the sanctity of these special provisions. “If true, this means that the Prime Minister is understanding and appreciating the genuine concerns and aspirations of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh”, he said, adding that this being so, the local BJP leadership should stop indulging in rabble rousing. “If the BJP leadership is in agreement with continuation of Article 35 A and Article 370, as claimed by the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, then the ongoing sinister campaign of the Jammu BJP leaders is to vitiate the atmosphere and create unrest in the state. He said Article 35A is neutral as far as religious, regional, caste and ethnic aspects are concerned. “This concerns all the state subjects, irrespective of caste, creed, colour, region of religion”, he maintained.
Advising the BJP to stop playing politics and shun its myopic approach towards Article 35A, Mr Devender Singh Rana asked the party to take corrective measures in ending discrimination with the Jammu region instead that has been unleashed in the past over two and half years. He said the people are very angry over non-performance of the BJP.
“We demand that the rights of all the people of all the three regions–Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh–should be protected and there should be no discrimination”, he added.
He cited the selections made by the Public Service Commission as the worse example of discrimination and said instead of course correction, the BJP was indulging in hoodwinking public opinion on Article 35A. He challenged the BJP to come out of the web it has woven around itself and do justice with Jammu. “If 25 MLAs of the BJP will resign for the cause of Jammu, we the two MLAs of National Conference will follow the suit”, he challenged.
“The sagacious people of Jammu are conscious about the significance of Article 35A for their identity and existence and therefore they will offer any sacrifice to preserve this proviso”, the Provincial President declared.