Majid Kapra

Kashmir Inc. urges PM Modi to live by his words

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‘Safeguard Article 35-A if you really want to embrace people of valley’

Srinagar, Aug 18: Latching on the Prime Minister’s latest assertions on Kashmir  during his Independence Day address, the business community here today said it was incumbent upon Narendra Modi to safeguard Article 35-A of the Constitution if he was honest in his “deeds and words” to embrace the people of the Valley.

Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, is currently facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court.

The business community said Modi should either get the petitions challenging Article 35-A in the top court withdrawn by the petitioners or defend the provision by pleading for the dismissal of the case.

“It is an irony that Indian PM, who only few days ago swore of Kashmiriyat from the ramparts of Red Fort, is attempting a judicial onslaught on the same Kashmiriyat with the intention to change its demography for larger insidious political agenda,” Abdul Majeed Zargar, spokesman of the joint forum of 27 trade, business and civil society organisations, told reporters here.

He said, “If PM Modi is honest in his deeds and words to embrace people of Kashmir, then it becomes incumbent upon him either to get these petitions withdrawn by the RSS-backed organisation or to defend his own constitutional provision in the Supreme Court.”

Modi, during his Independence Day speech on August 15, had said the Centre will move forward in Jammu and Kashmir by adopting an approach of embracing all and not by ‘goli and gaali’ (bullet and abuse).

He said his government will move ahead in the state by following the path of ‘Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhuriyat’ as shown by late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Zargar said Modi should also make a statement in Parliament “reaffirming this solemn commitment to the people of Kashmir”.

The forum also appealed to Governor N N Vohra to rise to the occasion and engage the best legal minds to argue against the petitions “both on law and facts and get them dismissed”.

Zargar said the people of Kashmir would “shed their last drop of blood” to save their demographic character, identity and other hereditary rights.

“Let it be noted that the consequences of any adverse action on these rights will be too dreadful for anyone to imagine. To begin with, we endorse the two-day strike call given by the JRL (Joint Resistance Leadership) in this regard and appeal to all our affiliated bodies and sub-units to observe the protest programme given by the JRL in letter and spirit,” he said.

Separatists, under the banner of the JRL, yesterday had called for strike on August 26 and 27 to protest against any tinkering with Article 35-A and also threatened to launch a mass agitation if the Supreme Court gives a verdict against it.

Zargar also said people of Jammu and Kashmir have been enjoying the special state subject laws since 1927 “when the idea of today’s India was not even conceived”.

“Courts have no jurisdiction to debate, discuss or review settled laws. Any settled law as per doctrine of resjudicata cannot be agitated again and again. Hence the Supreme Court, keeping in view the sensitivities involving Article 35-A, should dismiss the petitions challenging it,” he added.

Zargar also denied of having moved any impleadement application in the Supreme Court to defend the constitutional provision. He said since 11 applications have already been moved they didn’t find it apt to create confusions.

He also said there are certain misgivings created by the media that Article 35-A grants special rights or privileges to the state, while fact of the matter is that it only accords a protection to hereditary state subject rights in vogue since 1927.

Elaborating, Zargar said the propaganda that women cannot retain their property rights if they marry non-state subjects is based on “naked lies” to create confusions.

He said a full bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court had in 2002 in Dr Susheela Swahney case held that no local woman who marries outside state loses rights over her property.

“Since High Court ruling was not challenged in the apex court, it became a law, according to which all local women continue to retain their rights over property even if they marry a non-state subject,” he claimed.

He also said that Supreme Court on West Pakistan refugees has held that it is the State Constituent Assembly which has the authority to amend various laws to accommodate their interests.

Pertinently, the Supreme Court had on August 06 adjourned hearing on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, saying its three-judge bench has been hearing the case and will consider whether it has to be referred to a larger bench.

The apex court has listed the matter for hearing in the week commencing August 27.

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