Srinagar: Contrary to his party’s stance, BJP legislator from RS Pura constituency in Jammu, Gagan Bhagat, said on Saturday that if Article 35A is tinkered with, the youth of Jammu will pick up guns and stones against the government.
“If Article 35A is tinkered with, the day will not be far when the youth of Jammu will also pick up guns and stones. The BJP is selling dreams and wants to sacrifice the interests of Jammu to achieve its goal of 300-plus (seats) in the upcoming parliamentary elections,” Bhagat said.
Bhagat went on to warn the union government of serious consequences if the constitutional provision providing special rights and privileges to J&K was altered or scrapped.
Describing Articles 370 and 35A as “shields”, Bhagat said the people in Kashmir Valley were aware of the “pros and cons” of the provisions and were “fighting our battle as well.”
The BJP legislator said that Jammu’s Dogras will face the brunt if Article 35A goes. “We will lose everything – our identity, jobs, business and our land – to outsiders. We will be left with no option but to either pick up the gun or stones for our rights,” he said.
He claimed that if Article 35A is removed, “the BJP will vanish from the state.”
Accusing the BJP of using the Supreme Court to revoke Article 370 and Article 35A, Bhagat said, “BJP is not the well-wisher of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. They are anti-people and anti-Scheduled Caste. They are playing politics over the vital issues concerning the state.”
The BJP leader also said that Kashmiri youth were being compelled to pick up the gun, “as they are subjected to arrest and torture.”
Last month, Bhagat found himself in trouble after the BJP state disciplinary committee recommended his suspension from the party for three months. The committee also proposed to restrain him from holding an official position in the party for one year.
The disciplinary action against Bhagat was taken after an ex-serviceman alleged that the BJP leader had abducted his daughter, a charge the legislator and the ex-serviceman’s daughter both denied.
However, Bhagat’s estranged wife Monika Sharma publicly accused him of having an extra-marital affair with the woman.
In reaction to Bhagat’s statement, former CM and BJP’s former alliance partner, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, said that it was “heartening” that BJP leaders were coming out in support of Article 35A.
“Today I feel relieved that regardless of political views or affiliations, we are all on the same page as far as protecting the special status of J-K is concerned,” Mehbooba tweeted.