SRINAGAR: Joining the chorus for defending Article 35A, members of the Kashmiri Pandit and Sikh communities who are currently living in Kashmir held joint protest demonstrations with groups part of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) here on Thursday, along with several civil society groups and trade union leaders.
A protest to defend Article 35A was organised by the State Pensioners and Senior Citizens Civil Society Association led by their president, Sampath Prakash, and other members from the Kashmiri Pandit and Sikh community at Pratap Park. They had earlier appealed to people to participate in their programme and show “unity” so as to “fight together to safeguard the special status of J&K”.
Responding to the appeal, members of groups part of the JRL, led by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik, took out a march from Lal Chowk and, marching through Residency Road, joined the sit-in at Pratap Park.
Pro-freedom slogans and slogans in favour of Hindu-Muslim-Sikh unity reverberated in the city centre, attracting a lot of youth including students, who also joined the protest gathering.
Addressing media persons, Sampath Prakash said that they wanted to “safeguard the pride and dignity” of the Kashmiri nation from all “foreign intervention”.
“I as a Kashmiri and as a member of the Pandit community have always taken pride in being a Kashmiri, and also thought of the rights of my fellow Kashmiris. It is matter of utmost shock and surprise that the Indian Supreme Court admitted the petition challenging Article 35A, as all earlier such petitions had been rejected or rendered invalid by the court,” Prakash said.
“Like my fellow Kashmiris, it is a matter of life and death to the Pandits and Dogra brothers. The Article is sacred to us,” Prakash said.
Clarifying that “special provisions” of the Indian Constitution are also in place in states of Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur, Prakash questioned as to why Jammu and Kashmir was being “made the only target”.
“I along with my fellow people will keep fighting for our right to self-determination, for securing our laws, and for our dignified way of life. We were a peaceful nation but we have been brought under occupying forces. We fought against Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs and Dogras; now the battlelines have again been drawn and the gun is speaking to the gun,” Prakash said.
Prakash appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to “stand up” and “rise above different considerations” to safeguard the special status of the state.
“We warn the government against fiddling with the law, otherwise there will be bloodbath on every street. I am ready to sacrifice every member of my family for this cause,” Prakash said.
Prakash along with representatives from different groups also announced “their unequivocal support” to the strike call given by the JRL on August 5 and 6. They appealed to the general public to make the strike a “grand success”.