Police may revolt in J&K if Supreme Court scraps Article 35A: Intelligence Agencies

Intelligence agencies have warned that there could be a “revolt” in the police ranks and massive unrest in Jammu and Kashmir if the Supreme Court passes an “adverse” order on Article 35A of the Constitution Monday, a news channel reported quoting sources.
The top court will hear a petition challenging the constitutional validity of the presidential order of 1954, which defines “permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir”, and bars non-locals from buying and owning land in the state.
The Jammu and Kashmir police are on the forefront in the fight against terrorists, pro-separatists protests and stone-throwing in the valley. More than 1,600 police personnel have been killed fighting terrorists since 1990. But on the issue, top officers are worried about the fallout in case the Supreme Court decides to strike down Article 35A.
A non-government organisation (NGO), backed by right wing groups, has challenged Article 35A, on grounds that it violates fundamental rights of citizens of India including the right to own property and the right to reside and settle in any part of the country.
The petitioner contended that the Constitution of India can be amended only by parliament, and Article 35A was outside the jurisdiction of President of India. The provision in the Constitution was applied to supersede Jammu and Kashmir’s State Subject Law enacted by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927.
Intelligence agencies have written to the state government, warning a revolt in the police ranks if Article 35A is tinkered with, sources said. State government employees, trade unions, business associations, civil society groups and lawyers have threatened to go on protest if the special constitutional position of the state was compromised. For the last one week, there have been series of protests as clamour is growing to retain Article 35A.
Sensing trouble, the state government headed by Governor NN Vohra has requested the Supreme Court to delay the case till local body and panchayat elections due in October. Last year, the Supreme Court deferred hearing of the case after the centre said that the government has appointed an interlocutor to hold negotiations with various stakeholders in the state.
Shesh Paul Vaid, Director General of Police, admitted that the local police had a view about this emotive issue. He hoped that the state government’s request for delaying the hearing would be accepted by the court. The officer exuded confidence that there would be no revolt in the police, as it was the duty that came first for the police force.
“Police officers have a view. I am a resident of Jammu and Kashmir and I am also a police officer; I have my own views. But what’s my duty, I will always do first,” Vaid said.