Kashmiris from across the aisle vow to defend Article 35-A » Kashmir Media Service

Srinagar, August 01 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, tension is brewing in the Kashmir Valley where people from across the political spectrum and civil society groups are threatening to launch a mass agitation against the hearing of Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution by the Supreme Court of India on 6th August.

Article 35-A is the hereditary state subject law that defines the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and bars non-locals from buying or owning property in the territory. It has been challenged by an NGO, ‘We the Citizens’, and other groups in the Indian Supreme Court at the behest of BJP-led Delhi government.

The Joint Resistance Leadership has already called for a two-day strike in the Valley on 5th and 6th of August against a serious challenge to the Article 35-A. The JRL warned of mass agitation if any tinkering was allowed with the constitutional provision. Senior APHC leader and President of Anjuman Sharie Shian, Agha Syed Hassan Al-Moosvi Al-Safvi in a statement warned that any fiddling with the state subject law would create a Palestine-like situation in Kashmir.

Civil society members and pro-India local politicians alike have come together to convey their angst over the issue to New Delhi. National Conference Provincial President, Nasir Aslam Wani, at a party meeting in Srinagar said that the Indian government should realize that abrogation and repeal of Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution would reopen the question of India’s hold on Kashmir.

The Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) on Tuesday filed a petition against the challenging of Article 35-A in the Indian Supreme Court. “The Party is of the unequivocal opinion that Article 35-A shall in no circumstance be annulled, modified or repealed,” party leader Yousuf Tarigami said in the petition.

Zafar Shah, a top lawyer from Srinagar, said, “Today, outsiders can’t buy property here. But if this law is struck down, the outsiders can come and take over. That is not the only issue. Majority of the people here are dependent on government employment and whenever the government issues advertisements for jobs, it clearly says the employment is for local residents. If this law is not there, then you can have people filling up vacancies in government jobs from outside J&K.”

Member of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Dr Mubeen Shah, said, this matter is related to the life and death of the people and we all are ready to spill our blood to safeguard this law. Muhammad Yasin Khan, a representative of the KCCI, said that all such petitions challenging the Kashmir’s special position were earlier dismissed by the Indian Supreme Court because of its sensitivity.

Article 35A, which was added to the Indian Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. Apart from imposing a complete ban on the acquisition of immovable property by non-permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, it declares that a non-resident is disqualified for registration in the electoral rolls as a voter and from holding any government job in the territory.

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