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Mehbooba warns against fiddling with J&K’s special status, identity

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Says tinkering with Article 35-A will be like setting powder keg on fire

Srinagar, Jul 28: Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Sunday warned the Centre against revocation of Article 35-A of the Constitution, saying any tinkering with the state's special status or identity would be akin to setting a powder keg on fire.

Addressing a function here to celebrate the Peoples Democratic Party's 20th raising day, Mufti asked the party workers to get ready for a "big fight" for the protection of Article 35-A, which gives special rights and privileges to the state's permanent residents.

"We want to tell the central government that tinkering with Article 35-A will be akin to setting a powder keg on fire. If any hand tries to touch Article 35-A, not only that hand, but that whole body will burn to ashes," PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said.

She said many attempts would be made to harass the PDP and its leaders as New Delhi knows that the PDP is the “only party that stands like a wall to protect Jammu and Kashmir's special status and identity”.

"They can even send Mehbooba Mufti behind the bars. But, do not get worried. PDP is the only party that can fight them as we do not have any baggage. Other parties also say the same thing, but they do not say so from the heart. It is written on our hearts that we have to take Jammu and Kashmir out of this morass.

"Be ready for the big fight. Elections come and go, power comes and goes. Mufti was not after the chair and I am his daughter. The real test is to save the special position of J-K and we will fight any such attempt till death and take J-K out of this morass," she said.

The former chief minister said in the current situation, the people of Jammu and Kashmir need the PDP more than ever.

"Today, everything is in danger. No one knows what is going to happen. Today, there is the need for the PDP more than it ever was for the people of J-K,” she claimed.

"We will not let the sacrifices of the people go waste. We cannot forget those sacrifices. Go to your places and visit the graveyards where martyrs, whatever name they have, are buried. Pray for them and promise them that PDP will stand like a wall for the protection of the state's special identity and for the resolution of Kashmir issue," she said.

“Whether it was the government lead by Mufti sahib in 2002 or the subsequent times, PDP led the way towards a peaceful and prosperous J&K.  Getting New Delhi and Islamabad to engage, initiating dialogue with the separatists, disbanding Task Force, giving incentives of the improving security situation to common people and ushering in a new era of development in the state have been the hallmark of PDP rule in the state,” she claimed.

She said that the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ between PDP and Bhratiya Janata Party (BJP) saw BJP giving in writing that they won’t touch the special constitutional status of J&K and would pursue a policy of engagement and dialogue with Pakistan and separatists for the resolution of Kashmir problem.

“Till the time we kept BJP engaged, we insulated the state from any step from the centre against our special status. It was no small thing to get Modi-led union government to do month-long ceasefire in the state, appoint a cabinet secretary rank interlocutor and make many offers of unconditional dialogue at the union home minister level. But we did achieve all this,” she added.

Claiming the prevailing situation in the state was not good, she said attempts were being made to weaken the people of Kashmir politically and economically.

"The situation in J-K is not good. There is panic. Everything has been destroyed – J&K Bank has been, and others as well. Attempts are being made to weaken Kashmiris politically as well as economically. We have to fight against this. No other party can stand up against this,” PDP president claimed.

"I read (National Conference leader) Omar's (Abdullah) statement in which he told New Delhi not to touch Article 35-A and leave it for the Supreme Court. I am asking you, is there anyone who is ready for any tinkering with the Article 35-A either by the central government or the Supreme Court?" she said.

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