Jammuites should decide about the Article 35A: Devinder Rana

  • National Conference trying to create fear psychosis: BJP

Provincial President of National Conference, Jammu, Devinder Singh Rana Saturday said that people of Jammu should be given a chance to decided whether to abrogate Article 35-A or not.

Addressing a presser in Jammu he said: “Jammu Dogras would be main sufferers if Article 35-A is abrogated. The people of Jammu should be given a chance to hold a referendum so that they can decide whether to abrogate Article 35-A or not.”

He said talks about the abrogation of the Article is also a ploy by those people who have acquired land in Jammu through illegal means and made fake state subject certificate so that they are not thrown out of Jammu.

He said attempts are being made to  communalize and regionalised special status of J&K. NC will fight such divisive attempt with tooth and nail and we will educate people in every nook and corner in Jammu division about 35-A and attempt of BJP to erode special status of state.

He also came down heavily on BJP accusing them of playing divisive politics in Jammu and Kashmir citing example of special status of Himachal, Sikkim and in recently in Maharashtra where BJP own government protected special rights of actual residents of these states.

He also accused BJP of spreading confusion among people about special rights by mixing with other issues like West Pakistan Refugee and Rohingyas which have no connection with the special status of the state.

Meanwhile, a complete shutdown is being observed in Kashmir valley in view of a shutdown call given by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) against attempts to abrogate Article 35-A.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench is currently hearing a petition against Article 35-A provision that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the state’s ‘permanent residents’ and their special rights and privileges.

The PIL was filed in 2014 by the NGO ‘We The Citizens’ seeking that the article be struck down. The petition alleges that the state government, under the guise of the article, discriminates against non-residents in matters of government jobs or buying property.

Meanwhile, the BJP today accused the opposition National Conference of trying to create a “fear psychosis” among the people of Jammu over the issue of Article 35A of the Constitution.

The saffron party, which is in power in Jammu and Kashmir in alliance with the PDP, alleged that the NC was responsible for promoting “majoritarianism” at the cost of minorities in the state.

The party was reacting to a statement by the Jammu provincial president of the NC, Devinder Rana, on the issue of Article 35A of the Constitution, which defines the residency laws in Jammu and Kashmir and bars outsiders from buying any immovable property or applying for jobs in the state government.

“We are taking a serious note of the statement…he (Rana) tried to create a scary picture of the ill-effects on the people of Jammu region if Article 35A is held illegal by the Supreme Court. He is creating a fear psychosis,” BJP state spokesperson Anil Gupta said.

“His (Rana) statement that Jammu will be affected far more than Kashmir since no outsider will like to settle there but will flock in hordes to settle in Jammu clearly indicates the mindset of his party that has always advocated politics of exclusion,” he said.

It is a direct attack on the composite culture and communal tolerance of the people of Jammu, the BJP spokesman said.

The Supreme Court had last month asked the Centre to file a reply within three weeks to a writ petition filed by an NGO seeking that Article 35A be struck down.

The plea said the state government, under the guise of Article 35A and Article 370, which grants special autonomous status to the state, has been discriminating against non- residents who are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections.

“The NC was responsible for promoting ‘majoritarianism’ in the state at the cost of the minorities leading to a demographic invasion of the Jammu region taking shelter under the discriminatory provision of Article 35A,” Gupta said.

Gupta also took a dig at the NC leader for equating the West Pakistan Refugees with the Rohangiya refugees.

“The comparison is not only absurd but defies all logic,” he said.

The BJP spokesperson asked if the NC leadership was so sure of the legal correctness of Article 35A, why are they resorting to agitational politics and provoking the Kashmiris?

“Rather than rabble-rousing, they should present their case before the Supreme Court,” he added.