Says Supreme Court will strike down petition against 35A, that Kashmiris need to shun guns and return to legacy of brotherhood
Srinagar: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Tuesday that she had full faith in the “institutions of justice” and that the Supreme Court would strike down the petition challenging Artilce 35A, as it had done in the past.
“Kashmiris believe in the institutions of justice,” Mehbooba said while addressing the August 15 celebrations at Bakshi Stadium. “There are some people who speak of taking Kashmir to the pre-1947 era. Then there are people who want to take Kashmir back to 1947. These people have taken us to the Supreme Court,” she said, referring to the attempts to abrogate Article 35A of the Indian Constitution.
Without naming the petitioners who have challenged Article 35A in the apex court, Mehbooba said that whenever the Supreme Court had heard similar cases in the past, it had rejected them.
“I believe this time, too, the Supreme Court will reject it,” she said. “I have full faith in the institutions of justice.”
She said that Kashmir will collectively fight if their identity is threatened.
“I was happy when I met the leaders of political parties regarding this issue. The entire political class is united in defending and preserving the special status of the state,” Mehbooba said. “We are together on this issue. We will be like a fist. The tussle for power, for occupying a chair, is different from fighting collectively for protecting our special identity.”
She said she was grateful to Farooq Abdullah for her fruitful meeting with him. “He treated me like a father and gave several suggestions. I followed those suggestions, and it bore results,” she said.
Article 35A allows the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to determine its “permanent residents”, who are eligible to vote, work for the state government, and own land.
Recently a petition was filed in the Supreme Court by a non-governmental organisation backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), seeking repeal of the Article.
Referring to ceasefire violations on the border, Mehbooba said that due to the stalling of dialogue, Kashmiris continue to suffer. “We have to understand the United States is a big country while North Korea is small. In the recent escalation of tensions, the US said that matters with the country will be solved through dialogue. Our minister, Sushma Swaraj ji, also said that dialogue is the only way ahead in resolving border disputes with China,” she said. “Hence, Pakistan should also understand the need for peaceful engagement and stop playing a negative role.”
She said that India should adopt a broad-based outreach, treating issues within the ambit of humanity, as was done by former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
“This issue should be treated as a human one. Kashmiris are suffering due to tensions between the two countries,” she said. “The Agenda of Alliance of our government has also declared that dialogue with all stakeholders in the state is the way forward.”
Pointing to the growing militancy in Kashmir, the CM said that Kashmiris needed to introspect as to where they are going. “Instead of giving (schoolchildren) pens costing Rs 20, guns worth Rs 6 lakh are hanging from the shoulders of our boys,” she said.
She said that not a single Islamic country produces the gun, but it is only the children of Islamic countries who carry them.
“I appeal to parents not to give guns and stones to their children. Instead, give them copybooks and pens,” she said.
About 132 militants have been killed in encounters with government forces this year.
Mehbooba said Kashmir was blessed with saints like Sheikh Noorudin who taught brotherhood and bonhomie and always preached of protecting the environment.
“This inclusiveness has ended in Kashmir,” she said. “We used to hear the call to prayer from the masjid at Makhoodom Sahab, and also Hindu hymns and Gurbanis, but this has ended. We have lost that culture.”
Praising the Jammu region, she said it has accommodated everybody, be they Sikh, Muslim, Pandit, Gujjar or Pahari.
“Look at Ladakh – tourists who go there once, want to go there again. The inhabitants are so hospitable that they leave an impression on visitors. Even Kashmiris now prefer to spend their holidays in Ladakh,” she said of the Ladakh region.
Asking Kashmiris to introspect upon what they have achieved in the past 70 years, Mehbooba drew attention to the fact that Kashmiris had consciously acceded to India.
“When the entire subcontinent was on fire, Kashmir rose above cultural, sectarian and religious differences under the tallest leader of Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah. We saw our future in India as both Kashmir and India had inclusive cultures,” she said.
Following the accession, she said, both the Indian Parliament and the Constitution gave special status to the state to protect its culture and identity.
“I do not know what happened on both sides later. Why did we become enemies? I think Delhi made some mistake. So did Kashmiris,” she said.
Concluding her speech, Mehbooba said “Hindustan Zindabad” and “Kashmir Payndabad”.
Later, the Chief Minister, flanked by DGP SP Vaid, took the salute at the march-past by contingents of various wings of J&K Police, Home Guards and other sections of the security establishment, as also from students of various schools. A large number of officials were present at the function.