Srinagar: Several trade and civil society organisations on Wednesday warned against attempts to tinker with Article 35A and declared that it is a “matter of life and death” for the people of Kashmir.
Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.
Members from the Federation of Chambers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCC&I), Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Federation (KTMF), JKSECE, Batamaloo Traders Association (BTA), All Joint Traders and Transporters Coordination Committee (AJTTCC) held a demonstration in the heart of Srinagar which started at a gathering at Jhelum View Park and then marched towards Press Enclave Srinagar.
The FCIK warned that abrogation of Article 35A would lead to “birth of another Pakistan in India”. FCIK president Abdulm Qayoom Bhat made the controversial statement, saying, “If Government of India by any means attempts to tinker with Article 35A, that will be birth of another Pakistan in India.”
While talking to Kashmir Reader, BTA President Imtiyaz Peer warned of “bloodshed”, Peer said, “We will never back down if these cheap attempts to attack our rights, to tinker with Article 35A continue. There will be bloodshed in the state.”
Civil Society member Prof Hameeda Nayeem termed Article 35A as a commitment the Government of India had made with Jammu and Kashmir. “If GoI tries to break this commitment with Jammu and Kashmir, then the annexation (of the state) will come to an end,” she said.
“The Government of India is bringing this issue from the backdoor via the Supreme Court,” Prof Nayeem said. “The Supreme Court has nothing to do with Article 35A. A court cannot take any decision on it.”
Members from different organisations said that the special privileges and status given to citizens of Jammu and Kashmir were under attack, as Article 35A provides a “demographic protection” to the state since 1927. “This is a matter of life and death for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and we are all ready to drop our blood to uphold this law,” the members threatened.
Mubeen Shah, former president of KCC&I, said, “The GoI should not interfere with this state subject law. The petition (to repeal 35A) must be dismissed by the Supreme Court. If it is not dismissed, everything in Jammu and Kashmir will come to a standstill.”
“Each and every soul in Kashmir is ready to die for the state subject laws of Jammu and Kashmir State,” said Shakeel Qalander, civil society member.
The protesters also extended support to the shutdown call given by the Joint Resistance Leadership for August 5 and 6. The Supreme Court will hear petitions challenging Article 35A on August 6.