Jammu Bar split over Article 35A, Majority calls for retention, Right-wing backed groups on opposition

Jammu Bar Association Friday witnessed vertical divide where both groups held separate discussions in Jammu and Kashmir High Court at Janipur in support and opposition of Article 35-A.
Division among the lawyers has exposed some elements which are bent on creating an impression that entire Jammu Division is against the State Subject laws when over 300 senior lawyers attended the meeting led by senior lawyers came up publically in support of the laws.
Under the leadership of its president, senior Advocate BS Salathia, Jammu Bar Association held a general house meeting to discuss Article 35A and deportation of Rohingya Muslims from Jammu.
However, their decision to discuss the controversial issues has triggered a debate among the lawyers since many of them have openly revolted against the Jammu Bar stating that it is allegedly trying to fuel tense situation by raising selective issues.
While the Jammu Bar led by Advocate Salathia held a discussion at the Conference Hall of the District Court Complex, Jammu, the rival group comprising of over 300 senior and young lawyers under the chairmanship of former Jammu Bar president, senior Advocate AV Gupta held discussion for the protection and retention of Article 35A at Justice Vinod Gupta Bar Hall, High Court, Jammu.
The other prominent lawyers who expressed their views in favour of retention of Article 35-A were former Advocate General Mohammed Aslam Goni, former senior AAG SC Gupta, former Assistant Solicitor General of India K.K. Pangotra, former AAG Abdul Hamid Qazi, advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed, Pawan Kundal, ex-MLC Murtaza Khan, Ex-MLC MR Qureshi, former AAG Ehsan Mirza, Shah Mohammad Choudhary, and former Govt Advocate AH Bhat.
In his presidential remarks, senior Adv AV Gupta said that late Maharaja Hari Singh had executed instrument of Accession with certain conditions which later came out in the shape of Article 35-A read with Article 370 of the Constitution of India. He further submitted if Article 35-A or Article 370 is deleted then accession of State of J&K with dominion of India gets shaky.
Gupta further said that Article 35-A is beneficial for the permanent residents of J&K State and one of the examples he quoted is free education from Class 1st upto University Level.
Former Advocate General and Senior Advocate M.A. Goni lambasted the critics of Article 35-A and strongly expressed the need of creating mass awareness amongst the people of J&K State regarding the retention of Article 35-A.
Goni quoted several judgments of the Apex Court and State High Court and was of the view that petitions challenging Article 35-A are not maintainable and further said that there is a dire need for protecting the Unique Identity of J&K State.
Former Senior AAG SC Gupta submitted that those who are for scrapping of Article 35-A should first surrender their permanent resident certificates and then work in the State. SC Gupta further said that Jammu people must support their Kashmiri brethren on the issue of retention of Article 35-A as the State of J&K has its own identity and special status guaranteed under Article 370.
Former ASGI K.K. Pangotra strongly advocated the retention of Article 35-A and further submitted that it is only Jammu people who will be adversely affected with the influx of huge population from other States of India as no one will settle in Kashmir Valley and only the resources of Jammu shall be exploited at the cost of Jammu people.
Advocate Supriya Chouhan while speaking for the retention of Article 35-A said that Article 35-A protects and saves the local laws of State of Jammu and Kashmir. Supriya also highlighted certain rights and privileges given to the Permanent Residents of J&K State.
She also took a dig at the critics of Article 35-A stating that the people who want scrapping of this Article should be ready to surrender the amenities and concessions being permanent residents of the State before demanding scrapping of this Article. Similar views were expressed by Advocates Rupika and Monika Bhagat. Advocate Zahida Parveen also spoke on the occasion and strongly advocated the retention of Article 35-A.
Former President, Bar Association Doda, Syed Asim Hashmi and Former President Bar Association Poonch Raja Mohammad Abbas Khan complimented the senior members of Jammu Bar for organizing a meet to discuss the Constitutional aspect of Article 35-A.
Both of them extended full cooperation and support of Peer Panchal and Chenab Valley Lawyers and urged Jammu Lawyers to visit Muffasil Bars and entire Jammu Province for creating mass awareness regarding the retention of Article 35-A.
Number of Muffasil/District Bars also held interactions on the retention of Article 35-A and in this regard Advocate Haq Nawaz Mirza President Bar Association Rajouri who strongly supported the retention of Article 35-A. Similarly, Surankote Bar Association, led by Advocate Yasir Janjua, Mendhar Bar Association president Advocate Basharat Khan, alongwith Advocates Sarwar Chouhan and Akbar Janjua demanded retention of Article 35-A.
Advocate Choudhary Nazir, president Bar Association Budhal – Koteranka (Rajouri) and Advocate Shaheen Ajaz President Bar Association Thanamandi also expressed similar views for the retention of Article 35-A.
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed conducted the proceedings of the meeting and thanked all the participants for enlightening the members of legal fraternity about the significance of Article 35-A and Article 370.
Similar views were expressed by Advocates A.H. Qazi (Former AAG), Murtaza Khan (Ex-MLC), M.R. Qureshi (Ex-MLC), Ehsan Mirza (Former AAG), Shah Mohammad Choudhary, Sarfaraz Hamid Rather, Mohd. Aslam Bhat, Ayaz Hamal, M.I. Sherkhan, Altaf Hussain Janjua, Sheikh Altaf Hussain, F.S. Butt, Mohd. Irfaan Khan, N.D. Qazi, Zulker Nain Sheikh, Ajaz Chowdhary, Mumtaz Choudhary, Javed Iqbal, Sheikh Ayaz Hussain, H.A. Farooqi, Wasim Akram, Kh. Mohd. Rashid, Sikander Hayat Khan, Zaheer Kamlak, Z.A. Mughal, Waseem Bukhari, Mohd. Ayaz Khan, Sarfaraz Bukhari.
Speaking to Kashmir Post, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed said, “Majority of people are in favour of retention of Article 35A. Political parties are playing politics on the issue. Bar should not become party to this issue. Bar is a welfare association for welfare of lawyers.”
“Present team of Jammu Bar Association had mandate till April 2018 after their election to the office for one year. The term has expired but the elections were not held. They (Jammu Bar Association’s body) want to ensure extension of their period without holding fresh elections after expiry of their term in an undemocratic manner,” said the lawyer.
He said they want to rake up controversial issues to delay the elections further. When asked about settlement of illegal foreigner nationals in Jammu, he criticized selective targeting of a community and ignoring others who are living in Jammu since decades.
Another advocate from Chenab valley told Kashmir Post: “We want all the illegal migrants like West Pak Refugees should also be deported out of Jammu and Kashmir. Why only a community being targeted on the name of illegal immigrant like Rohingya Muslims? Why there is no demand from Jammu about the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir in a smooth and safe manner?”
“Since communal flavor is attached to the issues like Rohingyas and Article 35A, the politics has been introduced in the Jammu Bar which is very unfortunate and suggested that Bar should desist from such things to keep all the lawyers united irrespective of their religious identity,” the advocate said.
Speaking to Kashmir Post from Rajouri, Advocate Tazim Dar said: “We are already expressed our displeasure against any attempt to scrap special status like 35A from Jammu and Kashmir.”
“If this Article is revoked from the State, only Jammu division will suffer not Kashmir. Some communal elements want to create divide in the State on the name of religion and the Art 35A needs to be protected and strengthened,” said Dar while expressing his concern over the issue being communalized.
With regard to Rohingya Muslims issues, he said that it’s a humanitarian issue which is pending before the Apex Court.
Senior Advocate, Jameel Qazmi told Kashmir Post “Jammu and Kashmir is related to India though Article 370 and if they are hurting this bridge, then it cannot be tolerated,” he added.
The senior lawyer said that “J&K accessed to India on certain conditions only and it was temporary not permanent. They don’t want to listen truth.”
He said that present situation is more serious then emergency in which critics are not listen.
Meanwhile, Jammu Bar Association has decided to take out Tiranga Rally from Janipur High Court on August 6, 2018.
“The Bar has demanded abrogation of Article 35-A and deportation of Rohingya Muslims from Jammu,” Bar president Advocate BS Salathia told Kashmir Post.