Vakil appeals to J&K people to unite over the Article 35A issue

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Srinagar: Former minister and Jammu Kashmir Bachao Tehreek (JKBT) president Abdul Gani Vakil today appealed to the people to put their political differences aside and unite in view of a legal challenge to Article 35A even as the party lent support to a two-day strike called by separatists over the issue.

Article 35A of the Constitution grants special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kasmir.

“There is a need for the people of Jammu and Kashmir to put political differences aside and unite as it is an issue of the whole state and not just Kashmir,” Vakil told reporters here.

He said while Article 370 has been “diluted” over the years thorough several amendments, the people of Jammu and Kashmir would not let Article 35A be tinkered with.

“Our relation with the country is based on Article 370 and Article 35A. If anything is done to them, this relation will break away and the JKBT will be the first party to challenge the accession,” Vakil said.

He said the state was passing through a “dangerous phase” and people had apprehensions that there was a “well-planned conspiracy” in play to weaken the special status of the state.

Vakil, a former Congress party leader, warned of “bloodshed” and a “fire engulfing the whole country” if Article 35A is tinkered with.

“While the situation is bad in the state, it will turn ugly and there is possibility of bloodshed. The state will be on fire and that fire will engulf the while country,” he said.

The JKBT president appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to start a dialogue with separatists in the Valley to address the Kashmir issue.

He said the party would support the strike called by separatists on August 5 and 6 to protest the legal challenge to Article 35A.

“If the need arises, we will hit the roads,” he said.