Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi of the J&K High Court is credited with dethroning the queen of Kashmir politics, Mehbooba Mufti, from south Kashmir by winning the Anantnag seat. While talking, Masoodi said as long as the rules of the game were followed, nobody, not even Parliament, had the power to scrap Articles 370 and 35A
Now that the BJP has come to power, how do you, as a former HC judge and an MP, see the future of Articles 370 and 35A?
Even if the BJP has come back to power, the National Conference has won all seats in Kashmir. I take this win as a message to the Central government that look the people of Kashmir are united on Articles 370 and 35A and the final, lasting and just solution to the Kashmir dispute. Had people given a fractured mandate, we would not have been speaking with the same authority. This victory is not a mere victory but a statement on behalf of the people of Kashmir to the Indian people that you cannot play with the identity, integrity and autonomy of our state.
What would be the consequences, legal as well political, if the BJP government goes ahead and scraps the Articles?
As long as we follow the rules of the game, nobody can do it because nobody has the power and courage to do it. Be it the Central government, Parliament or any other institution, they don’t have the constitutional or legal right to play with Article 370 because it is a permanent feature of the Constitution and cannot be scrapped, amended or modified. But, only as long as they follow the rules of the game. Article 35A is the fallout of the Delhi agreement. We have amended our Constitution of 1939 because of the Delhi agreement and they (India) have also amended their Constitution by getting into it Article 35A. So, 35A is not a mere Article. It has its roots in the Delhi agreement. The pact was reached between two persons through their representatives.
How are you going to defend the special status of J&K in Parliament?
The logic, law, facts and history are on our side. We only need to articulate them.
Will the National Conference have a tie-up with the other regional parties like the Peoples Democratic Party in future?
No way. Because the PDP is the other face of the coin. It is the Modi-Mufti combine. No question of having any kind of understanding with the PDP or any other party during the Assembly elections. We are going it alone as we also have a good presence in Jammu, Pir Panjal region and Chenab. We only need to consolidate our position and we will make the next government on our own.
What are your priorities as an MP?
We have infrastructure, roads, tourist destinations, sufficient accommodation but no tourists. Our PhD scholars are joining militant ranks. Even our youth who have good opportunities like university professorships are quitting. What are the reasons? Because we have kept the pot boiling. My first priority is to do whatever I can do for the final, lasting and just solution for Kashmir. That would be through a tripartite dialogue.