SRINAGAR : Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold the special status of the state and reject any attempt to abrogate Article 35 A of the Constitution.
In her Independence Day speech at Bakhshi Stadium in Srinagar, she criticised “elements in India”‘ who have approached Supreme Court challenging Article 35 A which gives special privileges to residents of Jammu and Kashmir. “The state is crown of India it should remain the crown.
Like in the state there are people who want to take us back to pre-independence era, in the country also there are elements who want to create trouble and take us even back to 1947, ” she said.
Expressing faith in the apex court, Mehbooba said, “I have faith in the Supreme Court of India that whenever attempts were made to target the special status of the state, the apex court upheld Kashmir’s status. I am sure like in the last 70 years they will reject the plea this time as well.”
While stopping short of threatening agitation on the issue, the chief minister, however, said that the political parties in Kashmir are united on the issue. “When it comes to the state we (political parties ) are united. The fight for winning elections is different but we will all unite in case there are any such attempts,” she said.
Mehbooba Mufti reiterated that she has got assurance from the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi when she called on him last week. “He listened to me like a father and guided me and gave me assurances am sure he will continue to do the same,” she said. But she did not disclose what the assurances were.
Opposition parties had also demanded that she specifies the PM’s assurances. In the beginning of her speech Mehbooba Mufti had said that both New Delhi and Kashmir have to work so that mistakes of the past are not repeated.
Kashmir which is recovering from a bloody unrest of 2016 when more than 100 people lost their lives has another crisis simmering. Mehbooba again batted for restoring differences with Pakistan through dialogue.
Political parties both mainstream and separatist have warned of an “unheard off agitation” staring the valley in the face if the Article 35 A is abrogated.
Article 35A empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define ‘permanent residents’ of the state and confer special rights and privileges on those.
The article also bars non-residents of the state to buy any property in the state and also does not allow them to get state government jobs. Later this month, the Supreme Court will hear a petition filed by Delhi-based NGO ‘We the Citizens’ demanding the article be repealed.
The writ petition was filed in 2014. An impromptu visit by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to the residence of senior National Conference leader and arch rival Farooq Abdullah on August 8 was a seen as a signal that mainstream political parties were ready to forget political differences in case the special status is harmed.
On Monday, National Conference working president Omar Abdullah put the BJP in his line of fire, accusing it of taking legal recourse via an NGO to abolish Article 35 A.