What happened to all the assurances we were told about: Omar to Mehbooba
Srinagar: Intensifying its agitation, the National Conference (NC) on Monday kick-started a campaign against the move to repeal Article 35 A, which secures special citizenship to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing the convention at Nawa-e-Subha in Srinagar, NC working president Omar Abdullah said the party would fight these moves tooth and nail.
“Both BJP and PDP should understand that National Conference is a stakeholder in all the three regions of the state and will fight for the rights of our people,” he said.
Lashing out at the People’s Democratic Party for “surrendering the state’s political identity and rights to remain in power”, he said that the professionalism and seriousness of the response of the PDP-BJP government to this sensitive issue can be gauged by the fact that the state’s counter affidavit has been condensed to just 11 pages when it had otherwise contained 70 pages.
“The affidavit, 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. 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,” he said.
Asked party legislators and functionaries to inform the people of these “intrigues and the adverse repercussions” of such a step for all the three regions of the state, he said that the BJP has left no stone unturned to “rob the state of its constitutionally guaranteed special status”.
“While in their ‘Agenda of the Alliance’, the PDP promised the people that it had managed to get the BJP to agree to a ‘status-quo’ on the state’s special status, the BJP has, in reality, left no stone unturned to rob the state of its constitutionally guaranteed special status. The BJP has openly called for not only the repeal of Article 35 A, but also the abrogation of Article 370,” Abdullah said.
Saying that Mehbooba Mufti’s one-day dashes to New Delhi and “her lies about ‘assurances’ from the PM cannot absolve her of her complicity in this conspiracy”, he said that the PDP is playing an active and critical part in this machination.
“They cannot continue to govern with the BJP and oppose its policies at the same time. This never-ending drama of the PDP cannot fool anyone any more,” Abdullah said.
Questioning the intentions of the BJP, he said that whenever the situation turns against their anti-J&K strategies, they come up with “sinister new agendas”. He also expressed surprise over the 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, the north-eastern States, Lakshadweep etc., were having almost similar laws regarding ownership of land and definition of domicile regulations, etc.
“Why isn’t the central government formally defending Article 35 A 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 conventions held in Jammu and Srinagar on Monday, the NC said, are a part of a series of workshops and meetings initiated by the National Conference across the state for mobilising public opinion over this crucial issue.
“All this is being done under an elaborate conspiracy to rob J&K of its special status and rights. What happened to the ‘assurance’ the PM (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) had allegedly given you, Mehbooba ji? Today the BJP has only increased the sharpness of its pitch against 35 A and Article 370,” 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”.
Abdullah said the BJP has been hell-bent on trampling the special status of J&K for a long time, which also was incidentally their “election plank” in 2014.
“But once they came to power, the BJP realised 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 Article 35 A through a ‘mukhota (mask)’, he added.
He said the 90-year-old law, introduced by the erstwhile Maharaja Hari Singh to keep intact the identity of Jammu and Kashmir, gives its people exclusive rights over land, jobs in government departments, student scholarships and special aid and relief.
Referring to the designs of the BJP in attacking J&K’s special status, Abdullah made mention of the recent implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act, 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,” Abdullah added.