JAMMU AUGUST 14- National Conference Working President Mr Omar Abdullah on Monday assailed the BJP for trying to engineer a regional divide in Jammu and Kashmir over Article 35A of the Constitution, saying if the so-called assurance given by Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was true why a counter affidavit hadn’t been presented before the Supreme Court of India by the Centre to defend Article 35-A.
“Instead of defending this Article, the Attorney General pitched for a larger debate on Article 35A”, Mr Omar Abdullah said while inaugurating and addressing a day-long convention of District and Block Presidents of Jammu Province besides senior functionaries of various wings at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan this morning.
“Why isn’t the Central Government formally defending Article 35A in the Supreme Court as per the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and as a custodian of the Constitution of India?”, he asked.
The convention is a part of a series of workshops and meetings initiated by the National Conference across the State for mobolising public opinion over this crucial issue.
The Working President questioned the professionalism and seriousness of the response of the PDP-BJP Government to this serious and sensitive issue and said the State’s counter affidavit has been condensed to just eleven pages, which speaks of the seriousness accorded to it. The affidavit, he said, for some odd reasons is reported to be without any substance or any depth and worryingly the State Government is putting up a weak case, perhaps intentionally so. He said the preliminary affidavit actually contained nearly 70 pages but the State Government didn’t allow this to be filed in the Apex Court and instead preferred a brief, token counter response – which was worrisome and raised a red-flag on the role being played by the PDP-BJP Government.
“All this is being done under an elaborate conspiracy to rob J&K of its Special Status and rights”, Mr Omar Abdullah said and urged the people to unite in fighting this conspiracy and foil the attempts being made to trample the constitutional guarantees available to the State.
The Working President questioned the intention of the BJP and said whenever th situation turns against their anti-J&K strategies, they come up with sinister new agendas. He expressed surprise over singling out of Jammu and Kashmir in respect of the special provisions related to State Subject Laws notwithstanding the fact that several other states like Himachal Pradesh, North Eastern Statws, Lakshadweep etc were having almost similar laws regarding ownership of land and definition of domicile regulations, etc.
He said the BJP has been hell-bent to trample the special status of Jammu and Kashmir for a long time, which was incidentally their election plank in 2014. “But once they came to power, BJP realized that their designs cannot be achieved politically and therefore a short cut of proxy judicial activism through various affiliated NGOs has been initiated by clandestinely challenging the Article 35A through a ‘Mukhota”, he added.
Referring to the designs of the BJP in attacking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Omar Abdullah made a mention of the recent implementation of GST, and said this act too had deprived the State of its right to impose taxes. “We have now seen with distress our Chief Minister rushing to the Centre to seek tax concessions for various crucial sectors for the State such as horticulture and tourism with the GST Council in turn paying little attention”, he added.
Cautioning the people about the consequences of repealing Article 35A, Mr Omar Abdullah said Jammu will be worst hit before such repercussions are felt in the Valley. Not only will jobs squeeze for local youth but our business sector too shall suffer tremors with influx of traders from outside the State, he said, adding that the local land owners will be deprived of their holdings. “Whosoever intends to turn up in Jammu and Kashmir and push local businesses out of competition will find the Jammu region feasible because of its close proximity to the neighbouring states apart from the relatively more conducive security scenario”, he said and urged the people of Jammu to guard the State and their own interests against these sinister machinations of abrogating this Article.
“If Article 35A is repealed, we will traverse back to the unfortunate era of indignity, deprivation and oppression where Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammed Abdulah had steered out the people of the State”, he said and lauded the farsightedness of Maharaja Hari Singh in bringing the State Subject Laws into effect in 1927. He said the Maharaja had brought these laws into effect to save the interests of those locals holding land and finding representation in the state administration as there were apprehensions of non-state subjects usurping the locals. He said the laws enacted 90 years ago have withstood the test of time in preserving the identity of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh besides preserving their legitimate rights.
“In case the Article 35A is scrapped, it will cause enormous and irrevocable damage to the interests of the people of the three regions, irrespective of their caste and religion”, he said and urged the National Conference cadre to generate awareness among the people about the adverse consequences of the abrogation of Article 35A.
Mr Omar Abdullah decried the hue and cry by BJP over vociferous and genuine opposition of National Conference against attempts being made to do away with Article 35A and said the party will fight these moves tooth and nail. “The BJP should understand that National Conference is a stakeholder in all the three regions of the State while the BJP could not establish its flag in Kashmir”, he added.
While former minister Mr Abdul Rahim Rather dwelt elaborately upon Article 35A, Provincial President Mr Devender Singh Rana, former ministers Mr Ajay Kumar Sadhotra, Mr Surjeet Singh Slathia besides Th Kashmira Singh and Mr Khalid Najeeb Suharwardhy also spoke on the occasion and asserted that all attempts to scrap Article 35A would be fought unitedly by the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladkah irrespective of caste, creed and colour.