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NC rallies against Centre’s ‘blatant violation’ of Article 370

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Srinagar, Mar 02: The National Conference (NC) took out protest rally here on Saturday, expressing “dismay” over the amendments to the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 1954.

The party said the amendments were “a blatant violation of Article 370 of the Constitution”, which gives autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The central government brought in the amendments for giving reservation benefits to economically weaker sections and for promotion in government jobs to SCs and STs in Jammu and Kashmir.

The protest rallies were held in several district headquarters in Kashmir Valley, an NC spokesman said.

He said party functionaries, office-bearers and workers took out a protest march from the NC head office in Srinagar towards Lal Chowk city centre, but were stopped by police near TRC Crossing.

The protesting functionaries and workers, holding placards and shouting slogans in favour of Article 370 and Article 35-A, were led by the party’s senior leader and former speaker of State Assembly Mubarak Gul.

Addressing the rally, Gul said the move is “detrimental to the interests of state”.

“The decision has bypassed the authority of our elected legislature. The Governor’s administration has no popular mandate to make such recommendations which impact our unique identity. It is the prerogative of the state legislature to bring about amendments to the state constitution. The recent Union cabinet decision is a mala fide attempt to remove what remains left of our special position, we strongly condemn it,” he said.

Gul said the party was not against granting reservation to specific groups, but such a decision should have been left to an elected legislature.

Similar protests led by respective district presidents were held across the state, the spokesman said.

He said the protesters also demanded an end to “arbitrary arrests” in the Valley.

“Unfortunate that the career of over one lakh students studying in JeI (Jamaat-e-Islami)-affiliated schools is under threat. Government needs to relook at this decision. Arrests and bans are no solution. The only way to address an issue is through dialogue,” the spokesman quoted party leader and former MLC Bashir Veeri as having told the protesters in Anantnag.

The Centre Thursday banned the Jamat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir for five years under anti-terror law on grounds that it was “in close touch with militant outfits” and is expected to “escalate secessionist movement” in the state.

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