Article 35-A: Members of trade, industry bodies hold sit-in protest in Lal Chowk

Srinagar, Aug 29: Members from various trade and industry bodies on Wednesday staged a sit-in protest at historic Lal Chowk in this summer capital, against the alleged attempts being made to abrogate Article 35-A from the Constitution of India.

The protest comes after the Supreme Court (SC) decided to hear on August 31 the petitions challenging the validity of Article 35-A, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state. The Article provides special rights and privileges to the permanent residents.

Representatives from various trade and industry bodies and civil society hit the streets at Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital, urging the apex court to dismiss the writ petition, challenging the validity of Article 35-A.

Holding placards, which read, ‘Let us unite to safeguard the constitutional status of J&K’, ‘Stand together save Article 35-A’ and ‘Dismiss The Petition Challenging Article 35-A’, the protesters held a sit-in protest in Lal Chowk. The protesters said that any attempts to abrogate Article 35-A will lead to widespread protests in the valley.

They have also backed a two-day strike call, given by the separatists on Thursday and Friday against the alleged abrogation attempts.

Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) chairman Muhammad Yasin Khan, who led the sit in protest, said the ‘sole’ peaceful solution to controversy surroundings attempts to the abrogate Article 35 A was that ”the case is dismissed.”

Mr Khan, who also heads the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation ( KTMF), said the Article 35-A and 370 safeguard the interests of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh who enjoy special status. “Revocation of Article 35 A will mean that people of all the three regions will lose their share of all resources in the state including jobs and land.

This state will end up as another Palestinians whose land will be taken away by outsiders. We all will lose our identify–collective and individual,” he said.

Given the prevalent uneasy situation in Kashmir, Mr Khan appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask his government to seek dismissal of the case as had happened twice in the past when similar attempts were made to alter the laws. “Let the Centre make efforts for improving the situation and not festering the prevalent crises any further as any such attempt will prove catastrophic,” Khan said.

Stating that the business fraternity was willing to sacrifice everything for the safeguard of Article 35-A, he said any attempt to even tinker with the twin laws of Article 370 and 35 A will drag the region towards a catastrophe and the onus of which shall lie on New Delhi alone.

“People of Kashmir are peace-loving and want restoration of sustainable peace so that every sector of life including business community prospers but if our existence is put at stake we won’t shy away scarifying everything,” Mr Khan said.

The protestors later dispersed peacefully.

As many as 27 Kashmir-based trade and industry bodies, including the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), have presented a united front to protest against any attempts made to abrogate the Article.

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