The National Conference President, Dr Farooq Abdullah, has warned of an ‘uprising’ if Article 35A of the Constitution was abrogated. ‘When it will come to a decision (to abrogate the article) you will see this mass uprising. Do not forget that when the Amarnath land dispute happened in 2008 how the people of the state rose as one man overnight to fight it.’
Dr. Abdullah was speaking to the media after a meeting with opposition leaders at his residence.
He warned that the abrogation of that article will lead to a greater revolt and ‘I wonder if the Centre would be able to handle that.’
The meeting of the opposition leaders, including the Congress and the National Conference and other parties, had been called specifically to discuss the fallout of the abrogation of the article.
Article 35A empowers the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to define the state’s permanent residents and their privileges. The ruling had come into force through a Presidential order in 1954. It has now been challenged by an NGO in the Supreme Court.
A section of the BJP sympathizers have been pushing for the abrogation of this article, while more attention has been given to Article 370 that gives special status to the state.
Under this Article,non-residents have been barred from purchasing land in the state. The issue has now come into focus with a Kashmiri woman, Charu Wali Khan, recently filing a petition seeking changes in the constitutional provision as she wanted succession rights though she is settled outside the state.
The Supreme Court had sent notices to the Centre and state last month, responding to her plea. The woman has argued that the state's laws, flowing from Article 35A, have disenfranchised her.
The Advocate General, KK Venugopal, told the bench of the Chief Justice, Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud, that the petition against Article 35A raised ‘very sensitive’ questions that required a ‘larger debate.’
The court then referred the matter to a three-judge bench and has set a six-week deadline for final disposal. The bench is likely to deliver its verdict in September first week.
The Union Minister, Jitendra Singh, said that since the matter was sub judice, one should wait for the court's verdict before making any comment. He said the court verdict would be binding on all.
A BJP member from the state, Surinder Amabardar, said that ‘Article 35A is a constitutional mistake. It was incorporated through a presidential order and not through the parliamentary process.’
The Centre's position of seeking a ‘larger debate’ on the issue has set off alarm bells among a section of politicians in the Kashmir valley, prompting the State Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti's outburst during the Foundation Day celebrations of her PDP party. At that meeting she asserted Article 35A should not be tinkered with and there would be no one to hold the tricolor if provisions regarding special status to the state residents were altered.