SRINAGAR: Legal experts and the members of the Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS), a civil society group, on Sunday resolved that all the stake holders should approach the Supreme Court of India to challenge the petition against Article 35 (A) filed by an RSS-backed organisation.
“Civil society as well as all the stake holders must approach the Supreme Court to challenge the petition. People should take a stand against the issue that threatens the identity of the Kashmiri people and challenges the UN resolutions,” said Kashmir’s prominent legal expert, Zaffar Shah, during a roundtable conference on the Article 35 (A) organised by KCSDS.
Shah said the Article 35 (A) gives the permanent resident status to its citizens apart from their right to accession, property and employment.
“Abrogating this law would be against the UN resolutions. It would lead to a situation where ownership rights will get changed, population ratio would change and decision making will not be determined by the Kashmiri people,” Shah said.
“If this law is abrogated, it would mean that the state is at par with other Indian states. This issue affects every person within the Kashmiri society and even the people remotely involved in decision making,” he added.
KCDS chairperson Prof Hameeda Nayeem said the petition filed by the RSS-backed think-tank was aimed to “drill holes in 35 (A) and revoke Article 370”.
“The petition is a challenge to the identity and rights of Kashmiri people,” Hameeda said.
She pointed out that 11 new Hindu pilgrimage sites have been identified across the Valley. “The aim of identifying new pilgrimage destinations is to maintain dominance of ethnic groups in the Valley.”
According to her, the petition is an attempt to take away “whatever little rights are left with Kashmiris. “Article 35(A) and Article 370 simply secure the promises made to the Kashmiri people,”she said.
The speakers said the attempts were being made to change the demography of the Muslim majority state, which would “help Indian state in case plebiscite is held here”.
“Setting up of a Sainik Colony and allotting land to ex-service men, issuing state subject through headmasters, Amarnath land row and now challenging Article 35 (A) are attempts to alter the demography of the valley,” said the members during the discussion.
Chartered Accountant Abdul Majeed Zargar said that there are motives behind the petition filed by the rightwing backed think-tank. He said the existence of the Article 370 relies upon Article 35 (A) and any “challenge to this Act would threaten the special status of the state.
A Delhi-based Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre (JKSC) is has filed a petition against Article 35A, an outgrowth powered by Article 370 of the Constitution, which gives J&K special status.
Article 35A allows the state to grant special privileges and rights to its permanent residents.