Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi amid the debate over the special status of the state. A three-judge Supreme Court bench is currently hearing a petition against Article 35-A provision that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the state’s ‘permanent residents’ and their special rights and privileges.
“The basis of our agenda of alliance is that status quo of article 370 has to be maintained and that none of us can go against that,” CM Mufti told reporters after her meeting with PM Modi in the Parliament complex. She said the prime minister has assured her that articles 370 and 35A will be respected.
The PIL pending before the top court was filed in 2014 by the NGO ‘We The Citizens’ seeking that the article be struck down. The petition alleges that the state government, under the guise of the article, discriminates against non-residents in matters of government jobs or buying property.
CM Mufti, along with leaders of mainstream parties in J&K, have consistently opposed the abrogation of Article 35-A. In fact, the chief minister had warned last month that there will be no one to shoulder the Indian flag if the state’s special status is tampered with.
She had met Home Minister Rajnath Singh Thursday and is reported to have raised the issue in the meeting without getting any assurance in return. The Indian Express has reported that the Centre is unlikely to take a stand or file an affidavit in the ongoing matter in the Supreme Court. “It is the AG’s job to defend the constitution,” an official in the Home Ministry told the Indian Express referring to the Attorney General.
CM Mufti, in a rare meeting, also discussed the issue with National Conference leader and her rival Farooq Abdullah. Abdullah, a former chief minister of the state, had warned that if the article is tinkered with, there will be a far greater revolt than the 2008 Amarnath land agitation.
The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP had said that it was time to say goodbye to Article 370 and Article 35A. “The prevailing situation in the Valley shows that Article 370 has created a separatist psyche and acts as a breeding ground for separatist emotion,” said Prof Virender Gupta, a spokesperson of the BJP. He alleged that the articles, preserving special status of the state, have hampered progress and development in the state.