Locals panic over the changing demographics of state
There is sadness in the air in Kashmir. Cafes, restaurants, offices, colleges and even marketplaces are abuzz about the possible scrapping of Article 35A, or the Jammu and Kashmir State Subjects Law, which defines permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and prevents non-locals from buying or owning property in the state.
The clamour is growing: If the law is struck down by the Supreme Court, there will be a rebellion and Kashmir will erupt like never before. It may be an uprising that’s beyond the control of the state apparatus and its cost may be too much for Jammu and Kashmir or New Delhi to bear.
Abdul Gaffar is a shopkeeper near Poloview in Srinagar. He says the political fallout of the article’s abrogation is beyond anyone’s imagination. In a recent hearing of the case in the apex court, the Centre refused to file a counter-affidavit and the state government is also struggling to build a strong case, leading many to fear defeat is imminent.
The BJP, which has long advocated the abrogation of the law, is also feeling the heat in Jammu, after National Conference working president Omar Abdullah started a campaign to make people aware of the issue. “What BJP and RSS is telling people in Jammu is that it will be a Hindu majority state if Article 35A is struck down. But that’s not the reality,” said Anand Kumar, a social activist from Jammu.
The Centre has already received reports from the various agencies in the Valley about the possible fallout on the streets if Article 35A is struck down. What has been written in those reports may portray an exaggerated ground reality. But will New Delhi ignore the warning shots?
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