Kashmir civil society group urges parties to boycott local bodies polls

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Srinagar: A civil society group here appealed to all political parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday to boycott the upcoming local bodies and panchayat polls till the Supreme Court dismisses a petition challenging Article 35A of the Constitution.

Article 35A, incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, confers special status to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

“The JKCSCC appeals to all political parties, civil society members across Jammu and Kashmir to continue putting up a united face to the whole world and ensure boycott of the upcoming panchayat and civic body elections,” a JKCSCC member Muzaffar Shah told reporters.

Shah is one of the interveners in the Supreme Court.

“No one will participate in these elections till the petition against Article 35A is dismissed by the apex court. These elections are a futile exercise and civil society will ensure a complete boycott, he added.

Shah said the time has come for all stakeholders, including separatists, mainstream leaders and civil society members of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to come up with specific recommendations for a “peaceful solution” to the Kashmir issue which is acceptable to India, Pakistan and people of the state on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).

He said the JKCSCC also plans to file a petition before the apex court for restoration of internal autonomy according to the Delhi Agreement of 1952.

“Our action plan will be to file a petition before the Supreme Court for restoration of internal autonomy as per the Delhi Agreement of 1952. We will have meetings across the state with all stakeholders and also across India and Pakistan to meet with the ruling party, opposition, regional political parties and civil society,” Shah said.

According to the agreement, the domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir shall be regarded as citizens of India, but the State Legislature was empowered to make laws for conferring special rights and privileges on state subjects.

“We also plan to hold meetings with stakeholders across the LoC in Muzaffarabad and Gilgit-Baltistan,” he added.

Shah said these exercises would be taken up in a time-bound action programme of 18 months.

“It is a herculean task and we expect people from all walks of life to come forward to realize this goal,” he said. PTI