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Article 370 basis of our relationship with India: Mehbooba

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Says BJP, Congress two faces of same coin

Srinagar, Apr 27: Terming the Congress and the BJP as two faces of the same coin, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said both parties been responsible for eroding the special status of Jammu and Kashmir from time to time.

Addressing election rallies in south Kashmir’s Devsar area, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti also hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks that Article 370 and Article 35-A have caused "maximum damage" to the state, saying it was the basis of its relationship with the country.

Article 370 grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament's power to make laws concerning the state. Article 35-A empowers the State Assembly to define 'permanent residents' for bestowing special rights and privileges on them.

“Article 370 is the basis of our relationship with the country and accession, and if the prime minister thinks Kashmir is in loss because of it, then they should leave Kashmir,” Mufti told reporters in Devsar (Kulgam) when asked about Modi's remarks.

In an interview to a private TV channel in Varanasi on Friday, the day he filed his nomination papers, PM Modi said Articles 370 and 35-A have done "maximum damage" to Kashmir.

“We set up AIIMS and IIM in Kashmir but top professors are not ready to go there because they can't buy property there. The rents there are very high. There is no investment in J&K because investors feel they won't get land there," he had said.

The PM had also said the youth in Kashmir were not getting jobs.

"Kashmir is staring at bankruptcy. Terrorists have finished tourism in the state. There is no investment because of Articles 370 and 35-A. Now, people in Kashmir feel there is a need for change," he had said.

Mehbooba also lashed out at the Congress and the National Conference for “not thinking of the state's special status when they were in power".

“When (Ghulam Nabi) Azad was the chief minister of the state, he allotted thousands of kanals of land to the (Amarnath) Shrine Board. (Why) did not he think of Article 370 at that time? He tore apart (Article) 370.

“Similarly, (NC founder) Sheikh (Mohammad Abdullah) accepted the chief minister's seat after signing the 1975 accord with the then prime minister Indira Gandhi,” she said.

Mufti claimed that she fought with the Modi government for two years to protect the special status of the state when the PDP-BJP coalition was in power.

“I told Modi in Delhi that if you tinker with (Article) 35-A, then PDP will leave the government,” the former chief minister said.

“Article 370 and 35-A is not only in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir but for the rest of the country as well. Anyone talking about scarping JK’s special status is trying to sow seeds of discord and create new fault-lines. If any harm is done to Jammu and Kashmir’s unique status, the state will erupt in conflagration and the relation of Jammu and Kashmir with India will cease to exist,” Mehbooba said.

She also flayed the government over the “harsh, illegitimate and inhuman measures” being employed against the people of Kashmir with a sole objective to hoodwink the electorate in rest of the country.

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