SRINAGAR: The relationship of Jammu and Kashmir with India will come under question if Article 35A that empowers the state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them, is scrapped, said Ali Mohammad Sagar, general secretary of the National Conference (NC).
Sagar, who belongs to the party whose patron Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah decided to strike a deal with India rather than with Pakistan, told Kashmir Reader that Article 35A was a commitment from the Government of India (GOI) to the people of Kashmir that made the state become part of India’s federal structure. He said that if the Article is scrapped, J&K’s accession to India will come under question.
“It was in the Delhi agreement that India promised to safeguard the interests of the state, promises enshrined in the form of Article 35A. If it will go, the process through which the state became part of India will come under question,” Sagar said.
“Besides, the move will take away the state’s privileges like jobs and scholarships. It will give ownership of our land to outsiders, which is very dangerous,” he added.
The fate of Article 35A is pending before the Supreme court after a petition was filed by an NGO to scrap it.
Professor Saifuddin Soz, senior Congress leader, has spoken in support of Article 35A. He told Kashmir Reader that any move to scrap the Article will spell the end of the electoral process in the state.
“Who will vote or participate in the electoral process if Article 35A goes? It will only create a deep wedge between the Union of India and the state,” he said.
Former Advocate General Issaq Qadri told Kashmir Reader that scrapping the Article would enable non-permanent residents to acquire properties in the state. “And the employment opportunities available to people will be available to outsiders. Therefore, it will have a devastating effect on the present status of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.