Jammu region sharply divided over Article 35A

Amid too much of uproar and an atmosphere filled with apprehensions about Article 35-A, Jammu region is sharply divided right from Kishtwar, Doda and Bhaderwah at one end to Rajouri and Poonch at the other end with people holding divergent views about retention and scrapping of the Article which grants special rights to the people of the state.
Pertinently, several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging constitutional validity of Article 35-A.
The matter is in the Supreme Court and its decision will be binding on all, but one thing is sure, the apprehensions surrounding Article 35-A have divided the people of Jammu region as far as their views about the Article are concerned.
Those favoring retention of the Article 35-A are of the firm view that Jammu, being peaceful, will suffer the most, while those in favour of its abrogation are of the view that scarping of the Article will open doors of development for the state and will also help in addressing the problem of unemployment.
In Pir Panchal and Chenab Valley areas of Jammu region, majority of the people are in favour of retaining the Article 35-A, while in Jammu i.e Jammu district, many organizations are of the view that the Article must be scrapped.
Several organizations in Pir Panchal and Chenab Valley have come together in support of Article 35-A and have also been giving bandh calls to oppose any move of tinkering with the Article, which gives powers to the state Assembly to define state subject laws and rights of the people of the state.
All Parties Coordination Committee (APCC), National Ibrahim Memorial Trust, J&K Ahmed-e-Mustafa Trust, etc. in Pir Panchal areas are strongly in favour of retaining Article 35-A claiming it to be the identity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The All Parties Coordination Committee (APCC), an amalgam of various social and religious organizations of Rajouri, with support of Rajouri Bar Association, has been spearheading the agitation in Pir Panchal areas.
The APCC warned that attempts to fiddle with the Article 35-A will have serious ramifications and will result into a demographic invasion in the state.
“Article 35-A is our identity and if it is scrapped, we will lose our identity,” Tazeem Dar, a member of APCC said.
Spokesperson of Rajouri Bar Association, Shokat Ali, said, “Retention of Article 35-A should not be seen through the prism of any religion as it is an issue which concerns everyone living in Jammu and Kashmir irrespective of caste, region or religion”.
Shokat Ali added, “As compared to Kashmir, Jammu is peaceful. Therefore, if Article 35-A is scrapped, Jammu region will suffer the most as people from outside states will prefer to have property here in Jammu and do business”.
We should all put up a united fight to defend Article 35-A, he said.
Similarly, in Chenab Valley, majority view is against scrapping of the Article 35-A. Be it Ramban, Banihal, Kishtwar, Doda or Bhaderwah, people have strongly raised their voice in favour of Article 35-A.
The organizations like Educational Environment Social Sports & Cultural Society Doda, TanzeemAima-e-MasajidRamban etc. and other social, religious besides political organizations have all been at the forefront of opposing any move of fiddling with the Article 35-A.
Spokesperson of TanzeemAima-e-Masajid, Ramban (an organization of Imams of all masjids of Ramban District), MoulanaNazir Ahmed said, “Irrespective of religion or region, Article 35-A is the identity and dignity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and any move to scrap this Article will be fought tooth and nail”.
He said, “Maharaja Hari Singh, who was a Hindu, introduced state subject laws for protecting the rights and property of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. So linking Article 35-A with any religion is completely wrong”.
Nazir Ahmed also said, “If the Article is scrapped, Jammu region will be the worst affected”.
He added, “People of other states are very rich as compared to the people of our state and if Article 35-A is scrapped, they will capture our resources, business and jobs and people of Jammu and Kashmir will become second class citizens”.
AyubZargarGwari, member of Educational Environment Social Sports & Cultural Society Doda, said that Article 35-A is a bridge between Jammu and Kashmir and India and court can’t interfere in this matter.
He said, “Jammu and Kashmir is already passing through difficult times and facing turmoil. If Article 35-A is scrapped, as is apprehended, the situation will further deteriorate and the turmoil which the state will witness will be difficult for any government to control”.
There will be a mass movement in the state, he added. Public Awareness Front (PAF), a prominent organization of Kishtwar, is also strongly in favour of retaining Article 35-A.
In Jammu i.e Jammu district, although, many organizations stand for scrapping of Article 35-A but still there are some Jammu based organizations and a section of lawyers, who strongly oppose scrapping of the Article and are of the firm view that it should be retained.
Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCI), although, is not openly pitching for scrapping of the Article, but maintains that some groups and political parties are doing politics over the matter.
“The matter is in the court and let the court decide, but agitating on streets and holding seminars and programmes demanding scrapping of the Article make no sense,” Rakesh Gupta, president of CCI Jammu said.
“Those launching campaign against Article 35-A are misleading the people and doing politics,” he said.
Similarly, DograSadarSabha (DSS) also maintains that views, both in favour and against the Article are before the court in form of petitions, and therefore, there is no point in agitating on roads and holding seminars.
DSS president, Gulchain Singh Charak, however, said that children of the girls who marry outside the state must get rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Many groups including Kashmir Bar Association met us. We are of the view that matter is in the highest court of the country and we must have faith in judiciary,” Charak said.
Jammu lawyers are also divided over the apprehensions surrounding Article 35-A.
Bar Association Jammu has filed an application in the Supreme Court pleading that the Association be made a party in the case.
However, section of lawyers, who are although, part of the Bar Association Jammu, hold contrary view.
Sheikh Shakeel, who represents “Jammu lawyers Association” with around 400 members, said, “We are very much part of Bar Association Jammu but as far as Article 35-A is concerned, we do not agree with their view point”.
He said, “This Article protects our rights and demography. If it is scrapped, Jammu region will be worst affected as no one from outside the state will like to go to Kashmir and have property and do business in the valley”.
All Jammu Hotels and Lodges Association (AJHLA) and Jammu ParyatanVikasMandal (JPVM) are strongly of the view that the Article must be scrapped for the betterment of the state.
“Article 35-A must be scrapped as it is a roadblock in state’s development besides giving us a separate identity,” chairman of AJHLA and JPVM, InderjeetKhajuria said.
Another Jammu based organization, Shri Ram Sena (SRS), is also in favour of scrapping the Article.
SRS state president, Rajiv Mahajan said, “If union government really wants peace in J&K, then without any further delay this discriminatory Article must be abolished in the interest of nationalist people of both Jammu and Ladakh”.
Pandit group Panun Kashmir is also strongly opposing Article 35-A saying that it is discriminatory and illegal.
Recently, an organization IkkJutt Jammu has been floated by involving prominent people from different fields to launch a campaign against Article 35-A.
IkkJutt Jammu, through its chairman Advocate Ankur Sharma, also filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging Article 35-A. It has been made a party in the case.