JEHANGIR ALI | 9 AUGUST, 2017
SRINAGAR: The challenge to the Article 35A in the apex court has brought together the ruling PDP and the principal opposition party, National Conference, in J&K with the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti meeting Dr Farooq Abdullah last evening, in what is seen as an oblique warning to her dithering alliance partner BJP.
Sources said Mehbooba dropped at the residence of National Conference president and former union minister, Dr Abdullah at his Srinagar residence at 6 pm yesterday to discuss the prevailing crisis over the Article 35A that has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Speaking with reporters, Omar Abdullah, who was also part of the meeting said the senior Abdullah suggested to the chief minister that she should consult other parties with an aim to create a wider consensus amongst “like minded parties in the battle to prevent Article 35A being struck down in the Supreme Court.”
The meeting comes ahead of the hearing of the case in apex court next month where a little known NGO, rumoured to be backed by the RSS, the ideological fountainhead of the BJP, challenged the constitutional validity of Article 35A in 2014.
In the latest hearing, the country's attorney general, KK Venugopal, following the Centre's line, had refused to file the response to the litigation, saying a "larger debate" was needed on the issue. The stand taken by the BJP has riled its alliance partner PDP in J&K with the Mehbooba-Abdullah meeting seen as a sign of "simmering crisis" in the coalition.
"The meeting is a subtle message by Mehbooba to the BJP that clock can be turned back in J&K. The coming together of the mainstream parties is a good omen for preserving the special status of J&K. If the Article 35A is scrapped, the residents of J&K will lose all rights over property and jobs, etc," Noor Mohammad Baba, a renowned political commentator told The Citizen.
During an event in New Delhi recently, Mehbooba, echoing the sentiments of the mainstream parties of the state, had warned that if the Article 35A of Article 370 of the Constitution were to be tinkered with, there will be "no one to shoulder the tricolour in the state.
"If Article 35A or Article 370 are scrapped, Kashmir will erupt like a volcano and the situation will be beyond anyone's control. Anger is already prevailing in the Valley over the killings of teenage boys during encounters and any move which impinges on the special constitutional position of J&K will have dire consequences," Engineer Rashid, an independent lawmaker from Kashmir, told The Citizen.
The separatists have also started rallying the public support to oppose the litigation in the apex court. They have called for 'Kashmir Bandh' on August 12 to protest against the Centre's moves which have raised suspicion and anger in the violence-wracked Valley.