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Remove ASG, defer hearing on Article 35-A case till elected govt is in place: NC

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Abdullah chairs meeting of opposition parties

Srinagar, Sep 13: National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah Thursday presided over a meeting of “prominent politicians” from various political parties of the state here to discuss the legal challenge to Article 35-A and the political and security situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Though it was supposed to be the all party meet, but Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) didn’t turn up citing agenda of the meeting was not conveyed to it while BJP also remained absent for obvious reasons.

The meeting was held a day after the state administration clarified that the Panchayat and urban local body (ULB) elections will be held as per schedule, notwithstanding the boycott announced by the NC and PDP.

The meeting was called by NC president Farooq Abdullah at his residence in Gupkar area of the city.

The NC president had invited political leaders of various parties in the Valley to discuss the legal challenge to Article 35-A and political and security situation in the state, among other issues, party vice-president Omar Abdullah said after the meeting.

Besides the NC leaders Omar Abdullah, Ali Mohammad Sagar, Abdul Rahim Rather, Mohammad Shafi Uri, senior Congress leader Taj Mohiuddin, CPIM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, and former minister Ghulam Hassan Mir were present in the meeting.

“The NC president also wanted to listen to their views. He also told them the reasons for the party’s boycott and took their views on what needs to be done in the future,” Omar Abdullah told reporters at a hurriedly-called press conference.

Omar said the leaders who attended the meeting agreed that it was totally wrong on part of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India Tushar Mehta, who is representing Jammu and Kashmir in the Supreme Court, to accept that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in Article 35-A.

The apex court is hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which grants special privileges and rights to the “permanent residents” of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It was totally wrong that he (Mehta) went outside the brief given to him by the state government. He was not sent to the SC to talk about his personal views or about the opinion of any political party. He was not even a representative of the Centre,” Omar said.

“As he (Mehta) went outside his brief, we have lost trust in him and all the leaders have demanded that Mehta be immediately pulled out of the case and the lawyer who defended the case before him should be brought back,” he added.

“He (Mehta) was supposed to confine his arguments as per the directions from the state government which he clearly violated. Thereby we don’t trust the ASG anymore and the leaders in the meeting resolved that the state government immediately asks him to stand down.

“The state government, therefore, must handover the case to the lawyers who will put forth the arguments of the state and not of any individual or party to defend Article 35-A in the SC,” the NC vice-president said.

“The state is right now under the Centre’s rule. Call it Governor’s rule or whatever, but it is the government of India which runs it. Unfortunately, even as all the parties here, including the NC, have demanded that the Centre clears its stand on Article 35-A, it has not (done so).

“So, we do not even know what sort of defence the Centre will put up on the day of the hearing of the case in the SC in January next year,” he said.

“Keeping this in mind, all the leaders agreed that we tell the Centre and the SC to defer the case till (assembly) elections take place in the state and a new government is in place. It will be the responsibility of the new government to defend Article 35-A in the SC,” he said.

Asked whether the mainstream and separatist parties are on the same page over Article 35-A, Omar said every citizen of the state is of the view that Article 35-A should be protected.

Omar also said the Centre had made a mistake by linking the Panchayat and ULB elections with the hearing on Article 35-A.

His comments came in the backdrop of the Centre seeking to postpone the hearing on Article 35-A till January as the multi-phased elections will go on till December.

“It is their mistake. It was the Centre which linked the polls with Article 35-A. The Centre opened this chapter. You ask us why we contested the (LAHDC) Kargil elections. If the Centre would have linked the Kargil elections with this, we would not have contested those elections also,” Omar said.

Speaking about the government’s plans to go ahead with the elections, irrespective of the boycott announcement by the NC and the PDP, he said, it is their call.

“The last three chief ministers of the state belonged to the two parties that are not participating in these elections. The NC has a footprint in all the regions of the state. The PDP has its own importance. If you think that the elections carry any meaning without the participation of these two parties, then go ahead, we have no objection,” he said.

“Neither have we asked people to boycott the polls, nor are we running a boycott campaign. We only said that we will not contest these elections. Rest, if someone wants to contest the polls or does not want to, it is up to them,” he clarified.

 Rasheed ridicules Omar’s statement

Srinagar 13 Sept: After not being invited to the meeting called by National Conference, MLA Langate, Er Rasheed termed Omar Abdullah’s statement that NC has not asked people to boycott upcoming Panchayat and ULB polls as “unfortunate and disgusting.”

He said all those who participated in the all party meeting convened by Farooq Abdullah should clear their stand whether they subscribe to the views of Omar Abdullah or not.

In a statement issued today Er. Rasheed said “From Omar Abdullah’s statement that party has not asked people to boycott, it is obvious that NC is misleading people, trying to keep New Delhi in good humor but at the same time befooling Kashmiris and stabbing them yet again.

“It seems that whatsoever NC has been doing vis-à-vis these polls is a well-crafted strategy and a drama aimed to make panchayat and municipal elections a success and at the same time create an impression that NC stands with the sentiments and aspirations of people of J&K,” Rasheed alleged.

“First, by rejecting the electoral process NC tried to create sensationalism and diverted attention from the huge damage caused to the party as a result of Farooq Abdullah chanting ‘Bharat Maata Ki Jai’ slogans publically  and now it is taking a U-turn to bailout New Delhi,” MLA Langate said.

He said Omar Abdullah needs to be reminded that Kashmiris are mature enough to understand the duplicity and the politics of exploitation NC has yet again tried to play with the Kashmiris.

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