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Protecting J&K’s interests high on our agenda: Farooq Abdullah

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Srinagar, Jun 07: National Conference president Dr. Farooq Abdullah Friday asserted that protecting the unity, integrity of state was the primary goal of the party besides materialising the idea of a welfare state as enshrined in ‘Naya Kashmir’ document.

Addressing delegations, individuals who had thronged the residence of party vice-president Omar Abdullah, senior Abdullah according to the party press release said, “The primary goal of the party is to protect the territorial integrity, identity, special status and the pluralistic visage of the state.”

He said “the situation we are facing today is far more perilous. Forces as have traditionally been dead-set against the special constitutional position of the state are contriving there level best to obliterate Article 370 and Article 35-A. However our party will not allow any such gambit to materialize.

“The party will continue to tread the path that was taken to by it in 1931. Our agenda is pretty clear and unambiguous; it is to work towards the socio-, political- and economic-emancipation of the people of the state,” Abdullah said.

He said “our vision of development is not impaired by the bug of fanaticism, bigotry and regionalism. We have traditionally worked for the every section of the society. We will continue to work with the same passion.”

He said that Article 370 and Article 35-A were the articles of faith for the party. “The articles are as necessary and as pivotal for Jammu and Ladakh regions as they are for Kashmir. These articles besides sanctifying the constitutional bond between the state and the centre protect the rich culture of all the regions of the state. Above and beyond that the articles protect the exclusive right of the people living in all the regions of the state in jobs and scholarships.

“If the articles are done away with, the youth of the state notwithstanding which region of the state they belong to, will be snatched of their exclusive right over the jobs, scholarships in the state. Moreover the local youth of the state will find it very difficult to get admissions in the colleges and universities of the state,” he said.

“However, if we continue to forge unity amongst ourselves no one would dare to touch it. The need of the hour is joining our efforts for the protection of the special status of the state. The way people have reposed their faith in the party during the parliament elections shows that the people of the state deem it able to shoulder the mission of protecting the interests of the state. I am sure with the active support of people the party will put up a strong front against those forces are hell bent to destroy the identity of the state,” NC president said.

Maintaining that the state of J&K belongs to its people, he said, “The people of the state are the lawful owners of this land. For past five years we didn't see the central government do anything towards bringing rapprochement and reconciliation in the state. The people-friendly programmes and measures  initiated by the Omar Abdullah-led government were outrightly put into a chasm by the former BJP-PDP government and the BJP-led central government.

“However I am hopeful that the new dispensation at the centre will heal the wounds of the people of the state in particular the people of valley. I am also hopeful that the central government will start meaningful dialogue with the neighbouring country. Such a measure will bring respite to the people living along the LoC and international border,” he said adding “the resumption of talks between India and Pakistan will help the people of our state to live a better life, free of insecurity and tension.

“I am hopeful that the new dispensation at the centre will use its massive mandate to usher in an era of peace in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. We in our party will continue to impress upon the central government to engage with the neighbouring country. Internally too, centre should initiate talks with all the stake holders,” Farooq Abdullah said.

He also said, “We firmly believe that restoration of the autonomy will satiate the development and other needs of the all the regions of the state. In this direction our party had already got the recommendations of the state autonomy committee passed by the legislative assembly with two-third majority. We believe restoring autonomy to the state will clean the cobwebs of mistrust between the centre and the state besides providing for the local needs of the people across the state.”

Underscoring the need of delegating more administrative powers to all the sub-regions of the state, he said that once in power the party will give autonomies to the far-flung areas of the state.

“De-centralization and strengthening of local civic bodies forms the core of our agenda; once in power we will ensure speedy and effective de-centralization of the administrative powers in the state,” he pledged.

Delimitation in JK not permissible under current scheme of things: NC MP

Srinagar, Jun 07: National Conference leader and elected Member Parliament, Justice (retd.) Hasnain Masoodi on Friday said the reports that MHA is toying with the idea of undertaking delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir before “much delayed and overdue” Assembly elections is a cause of concern.

In a statement, Masoodi said the exercise would be without legal authority and in gross violation of Constitution and the law.

“Section 47 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir provides for readjustment of ‘extent and boundaries’ of the constituencies in accordance with the law. The Jammu and Kashmir Representation of Peoples Act 1957 (Sec. 3) is the law enacted to govern the matter. The Proviso added to Section 47 of the Constitution by 29th Amendment of 23rd April 2002 has frozen delimitation exercise till the results of first census taken after 2026 are published. Corresponding amendment has been made in Sec 3 in Representation of Peoples Act as well,” he said.

“It is not that the amendments have come from nowhere. These were preceded by amendment to Articles 82 and 170 of Constitution by 84th Amendment of 2001 whereby delimitation was frozen till results of 2026 were published. It follows that not only in Jammu and Kashmir but in all the states as well as in case of the House of People, the delimitation is frozen in effect till 2031 i.e the results of 2030 census are made public,” he said.

Masoodi said: “Once the delimitation is frozen as regards all the states, there is no reason to single out Jammu and Kashmir for such an exercise more so when the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir does not permit delimitation and the constitutional mechanism to pave way for delimitation is not in place.”

He said the delimitation at present can be undertaken only after amendment to section 47 of the Constitution. “The amendment can be effected only by the elected legislature of the state with requisite majority. The Governor does not have power to amend the Constitution. In terms of Article 356 that has come into play after the imposition of Presidents’ rule, the legislative power can be exercised by the Parliament, if so declared by the President.”

“In terms of Article 357, the Parliament can confer on the President power of the state legislature to ‘make laws’. The power therefore is to remain restricted in both cases i.e the Parliament and the President to make laws. Neither the Parliament nor the President have power to amend the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir in exercise of powers under Article 356 and 357.”

He said the Constitution and legal position as on date therefore would not permit delimitation.

“Such an exercise can be undertaken only after the elections are held for the State Assembly and a duly elected government is in place and necessary amendment is made in Section 47 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and Section 3 Jammu and Kashmir Representation of Peoples Act 1957, pre-poning the delimitation. Any effort of delimitation would be a misadventure and offend the Constitution and the Representation of Peoples Act,” Masoodi pointed out.

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