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'You can't buy land in Himachal, Sikkim, so why target J&K?'

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf
August 07, 2018 09:29 IST
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'The BJP wants to find an excuse to polarise people.'
'Whatever rights J&K has got from the Constitution of India, they want to snatch it.'
'By doing so, they are harming J&K as well as India.'

IMAGE: Kashmiris protest against the petition to revoke the Constitutional validity of Article 35A of the Constitution. Photograph: Umar Ganie for

A Delhi-based NGO, We The Citizens, and a few individuals recently filed pleas in the Supreme Court challenging the Constitutional validity of Article 35A of the Constitution, which gives special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

At the same time, several interlocutory petitions have been filed in support of Article 35A by individuals and civil society groups seeking the continuance of the special status granted to the state.

Among the petitioners is Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who represents the Communist Party of India-Marxist in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly.

"Already the relation between India and the J&K people has weakened, and by eroding Article 35A there will be more trouble," Tarigami tells's Syed Firdaus Ashraf, on Monday, August 6, soon after the apex court adjourned the hearing to August 27.


Why did you file an intervention petition on Article 35A?

My party's position is that we believe Article 35A is a part of Article 370 in the Constitution of India.

This came into effect after several negotiations between then Jammu and Kashmir prime minister Sheikh Abdullah and then prime minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

This was an agreement between the New Delhi government and the J&K government in 1952, after which Article 35A was brought under Article 370.

This is a Constitutional provision.

You cannot say that Article 35A can be repealed.

Already, Article 370 has been diluted to a great extent and there have been 43 amendments to that.

They (the central government) have already made Article 370 hollow.

It is for the same reason that uncertainty has risen in J&K and there is natural alienation.

The CPI-M believes that Article 370 is a part of the Constitution and the Supreme Court too has stated the same point earlier.

We are talking of 35A, not Article 370.

It is here that people are making a mistake.

Article 35A is part of Article 370 of the Constitution of India.

It is a provision of Article 370.

I have put in my intervention petition stating how this became a part of Article 370.

It is not in the interests of India as well as J&K (to repeal it).

Therefore, I want Article 35A to stand and the writ petition that has been filed (against Article 35A) must be dismissed.

This is the position of my party.

Many critics say Article 35A was a presidential order and it was not passed by Parliament.

The President of India has got the right under Article 370 to include any clause in it.

Now they are twisting this fact.

The 2019 elections are coming and they want to polarise the situation in the country.

We believe that this must not be made into a political issue.

Already the relationship between India and J&K people has weakened and by eroding Article 35A, there will be more trouble.

Charu Wali Khanna, who has filed the petition against Article 35A, said her children want to buy a house in J&K, but she cannot do so in spite of being a citizen of the state because Article 35A is discriminatory against the women of J&K.

There are many places in India, like the tribal areas of Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Sikkim, where such a law exists.

Indians cannot buy land in Himachal and Sikkim, why target J&K only?

In spite of the majority of the population of J&K being Muslims, they became a part of India.

Their rights were then protected by the Constitution of India.

When Maharaja Hari Singh was ruling J&K in 1927, Dogras and Kashmiri Pandits, who were more educated, got these guarantees.

They ensured that no outsiders must come and buy land in J&K or get jobs.

Maharaja Hari Singh brought this Article 35A in 1927 and made it into a law.

No one objected then, so why are they objecting now?

Just think.

The answer is to polarise and divide the people in the name of religion.

Does it mean the people of J&K feared their identity being crushed even 90 years ago?

This concern is not of today, but from Maharaja Hari Singh's time.

We believe that our country is full of diversity, ethnic and cultural ethos.

Our Constitution has protected and safeguarded those interests, like it has done in Sikkim, Himachal and other places.

It seems that only the Kashmir Valley has a problem with repealing 35A. Don't the people of Jammu and Ladakh have problems over its repeal?

It is our bad luck that the predominant political trend in India is that of the BJP and they believe that Article 370 has to be repealed.

But the BJP will not be able to do anything about it.

The BJP wants to polarise Indian society over Article 35A and Article 370.

This is our concern, that they must not polarise the society.

It is not good for India as well as J&K.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the BJP's political parent, wanted to repeal Article 370.

The BJP has only three slogans now -- repeal Article 370, bring in a uniform civil code, and the Ram temple issue.

They agitated against Article 370 then too, but the constituent assembly of J&K ratified and included Article 370.

So why are you ignoring that?

If the Supreme Court rules in favour of repealing Article 35A, what will happen?

The Constituent Assembly of India gave us the Constitution.

It has the highest value.

They defined the Supreme Court's rights, and you cannot forget that.

It is the Republic of India which has given the rights to J& K.

If you don't value this, then what is left?

The Constitution of India says that the basic structure of the Constitution cannot be changed even if Parliament says so.

The basic structure of India is it is a secular country, and you cannot call it a Hindu Rashtra.

But the Constitution can be amended.

No, they cannot.

The BJP cannot change the basic structure of the Constitution of India.

They can in bring amendments, no doubt. But the basic structure of the Constitution, which includes Article 370, cannot be changed.

And this includes Article 35A as well?

It is a part of Article 370 which has been ratified by the J&K assembly.

Till date, the Government of India made 42 amendments to Article 370, why has it not reversed them?

What has changed so drastically in Article 370 between 1950 and now?

Things which were in the state's list have been changed (and brought under the Concurrent List).

Take the latest example of Goods and Service Tax, it is now applicable in J&K.

Why are the women of J&K not getting their rights?

We believe the women must get their rights.

It is in the hands of the J&K assembly, that they make the laws to strengthen women's rights.

I want to raise only one question: When Maharaja Hari Singh made this Article 35A rule, why was there no protests then?

In Telangana, too, the same rule applies.

So why not raise your voice against that?

I feel the BJP wants to find an excuse to polarise people.

Whatever rights J&K has got from the Constitution of India, they want to snatch it.

By doing so, they are harming J&K as well as India.

The BJP wants to polarise Hindu-Muslim voters on Article 35A.

They want to deprive the people of J&K of whatever little is left of the special rights safeguarded by the Constitution of India.

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf /